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Year in Books 2021: Find Your Light

Entered in Integrated Campaign


2021 was the biggest year for books on record. More people were reading than ever before, and Penguin Random House's authors drove the biggest cultural conversations of the year. To name a few, we publish Amanda Gorman, Barack and Michelle Obama, Will Smith, Ta-Neihsi Cotes, Cathy Park Hong, Alison Roman, Stacey Abrams, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Glennon Doyle, Lil Nas X, David Chang, Molly Baz, Greta Thunberg, Ibram X. Kendi, and so many other cultural giants. The romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and graphic novel categories experienced a massive boom, in large part driven by #booktok, which at the end of 2021 had over 25 billion views. For us, this was cause for celebration. We wanted to honor all the storytellers that comforted, taught, and inspired us during such a turbulent year, as well as celebrate the fact that this was the year an unprecendented number of people turned to reading for solace, entertainment, wellness, empathy, and joy. Looking back on the year in books, our theme was clear. From Amanda Gorman's Inaugural poem: "Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?" The answer for so many was in stories. Hence: Find Your Light.


We wanted to inspire new readers to discover what brings them joy and purpose, celebrating the power of books to shape us as individuals and as a culture. So we looked back on the major themes and cultural events of the year, book trends and moments, and stats about reading culture. We decided that the centerpiece of the campaign would be a spotlight video that brought all of this together, narrated by our very own Phoebe Robinson, bestselling author and founder of the Tiny Reparations publishing imprint at Penguin Random House. From there, we were able to translate the creative to site, email, social, influencer, PR, digital advertising, and out-of-home, drawing on the inspirational "Find Your Light" in combination with incredible, record-breaking stats about books this year. 


Our primary tactical goal with this brand campaign was simple: make something people want to share. And we absolutely did that. Our spotlight video garnered over 4.8 million views and had an overwhelmingly positive response on social. Even better, Year in Books posts on Instagram averaged 619 shares (24% above our average) and 736 saves (636% above our average!) The carousels featuring stats from the year performed particularly well, even generating some organic (and very celebratory) shares over to TikTok. 

We were also thrilled that campaign was featured in nine major publications (including AdAgeCreative Review, and It’s Nice That), with many of those outlets making the comparison to Spotify Wrapped. Year in Books is going to be an ongoing campaign for Penguin Random House, and we would love to demonstrate to people that Penguin Random House is the place to go to find out what the world was reading this year, like Spotify for music and Google for search. We are the biggest trade publisher in the world, and have an incredible amount of data on reading behavior that we will be able to draw on and spotlight for years to come. 

Tactical outputs included rich content pieces, a 10-city out-of-home campaign, a robust social and programmatic digital advertising campaign, a TikTok influencer campaign, an extensive email program, social activations, and more. 


Video for Year in Books 2021: Find Your Light

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Penguin Random House


Entry Credits