Be a Reader, Not a Follower

//  08.05.22


Would you rather read an “unputdownable Scottish detective thriller” like Old Bones Lie, or perhaps “a page-turning murder mystery” like A Lethal Deception, than the latest high-brow fiction or heavy biography? Then Kobo Plus might be for you.

The eBook subscription service is urging readers to fight back against “book shaming” in a new campaign from Toronto agency The Garden called “Be a reader, not a follower.”

Rather than touting Kobo Plus as home to the types of books that dominate critics’ annual best-of lists, the campaign leans hard into the service’s reputation as the home of hundreds of thousands of indulgent, binge-worthy titles from genres like murder mystery, erotic fiction, and paranormal fiction, and celebrates the readers who indulge in them.

That includes titles like Bree Dahlia’s 2017 Love, Luck and Clusterf*ck, which is the centrepiece of the campaign’s 30-second hero spot. The spot follows a woman joyfully reading the novel on her Kobo in a variety of locations. However, each time she attempts to inform curious bystanders of the book’s NSFW title, the “offending” word is bleeped out by nearby sounds such as an espresso maker, a hairdryer, or jackhammer.

The spot concludes with the frustrated woman loudly and repeatedly exclaiming the title’s most contentious word, except this time she does so during an after-school pick-up. “It’s this amazing new eBook I got on Kobo Plus,” she sheepishly explains.

“The Garden took us through their strategic workshop, which was invaluable in getting us to fresh, disruptive creative,” said Lindsay Gray, Director of Brand & Product Marketing, Kobo. “We were able to completely reframe our challenge and actually turn it into a real strength.”

The video ad is being accompanied by a series of out-of-home and digital ads that highlight the various genres available on Kobo Plus with playful, permissive messaging, including “So what if you cozy up with criminals?” and “It’s okay if exorcism is part of your bedtime routine.”

“Up against the vast resources of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, we needed to stand out not just as an eBook subscription service, but for what Kobo Plus could really own — binge-worthy, guilty-pleasure paperbacks,” said Jenn Munoz, Strategy Director, The Garden. “We wanted to celebrate the readers who read for the love of it, not for the clout.”

The campaign launched last month and runs through Sept. 4 across TV/OLV, digital and contextual out-of-home. The Garden began working with Kobo in February.


Campaign Title: Be a reader, not a follower.

Client: Rakuten Kobo
Chief Marketing Officer: Marianne Hamilton
Director, Brand & Product Marketing: Lindsay Gray

Agency: The Garden
Chief Creative Officer: Shane Ogilvie
Chief Strategy Officer: Shari Walczak
Managing Director: Dic Dickerson
Creative Director: Lindsay Eady
Creative Director: Francheska Galloway-Davis
Strategy Director: Jenn Munoz
Design Director: Adriana Ivory
Copywriter: Nuala Murray
Art Director: Mriga Suchdeva
Agency Producer: Melanie Lambertsen
Senior Designer/Illustrator: Elijah Kamran
Animator: Kathy Tidy
Business Lead: Reuben Greenspoon
Project Lead: Soraya Benbada
Studio Director: Jamie Morren
Project Lead/Digital Strategist: Julia Zammit

Production Company: Someplace Nice
Executive Producer: Chilo Fletcher
Producer: Gillian Gardner
Director: Peter Henderson
DOP: Jackson Parrell via SESLER
Production Designer: Jason MacIsaac
Location Manager: Lance Creighton

Editorial Company: Rooster Post Production
Executive Producer: Melissa Kahn
Editor: Chris Parkins
Assistant Editor: Sonny Atkins

Post Production: The Vanity
Flame Artist: Kaelem Cahill
Colour: The Vanity
Colourist: Andrew Exworth

Audio House: Berkeley Inc.
Creative Director: Jared Kuemper
Casting Company: Mann Casting
Casting Director: Steven Mann

Media Agency: Cairns Oneil
Managing Director: Tim Hughes
Communications Director: Jennifer Blenkhorn
Communications Planner: Olivera Dragojevic
Digital Manager: Rachel Schmidt
Communications Coordinator: Kaitlin Irving

eBooks, The Garden