When “The Lincoln Lawyer” author Michael Connelly wanted to spread the word about his new tome, he took an unconventional approach. At Connelly’s behest, publisher Little, Brown hired L.A. trailer house Guillotine to create 15- and 30-second spots for a national-broadcast and online campaign that resembles a movie trailer far more than the standard book commercial, which typically features a no-frills shot of the jacket.
“During the ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ film campaign earlier this year, I was around a lot of the Hollywood promotional (tools), and I became intrigued by the idea of taking some of the techniques of promoting a film and applying it to a book,” says Connelly of his latest entry in the Harry Bosch detective series. “I saw this as an opportunity to give a cinematic appeal to the Bosch books.”
Though book commercials are rare, they do occasionally surface for big-name bestselling authors like James Patterson, John Grisham and Connelly. And with viewers increasingly skipping commercials due to DVRs, streaming content and On Demand, the ads most likely to stick are those that deliver the unexpected.
Guillotine executive creative director Peter Walsh, who is working on the latest “Spider-Man” trailers, agrees that most book spots are not very good. “We wanted to capture the quality of (Connelly’s) books,” he says. “The line we had to walk was to give people a flavor and set up the story, but not give away too much.”
For its first foray into the book-trailer world, Guillotine hired actors and a full production crew for the three-day shoot. Walsh used CG artists to create the illusion of birds flying off the page, and commissioned an original music composition for the spots, which ran on CNN, ESPN, USA, E! and Discovery during commercial breaks for “Burn Notice,” “Law & Order,” “Anderson Cooper 360” and “SportsCenter.”
The spots began airing two weeks before the book’s Nov. 28 pub date — another nod to the film marketing business, which, unlike the book-selling world, builds awareness long before its content is available to consumers.
The result, Connelly says, is a far stickier ad. “People say to me, ‘It’s about time they started advertising your books on TV.’ And I say, well, actually, they’ve been doing that for years.”