HarperCollins came up with an innovative and effective campaign for its latest John Gray bestseller, Mars &Venus on a Date. Calling it "An Unmanned Mission," the publisher capitalized on the newest boy-meets-girl (and vice-versa) venue -- the bookstore -- by co-sponsoring special social events in eight stores across the country. Geared toward singles -- thousands of invitations were sent by local bookstores to their customers -- the events, co-sponsored by and advertised on local radio stations, featured appearances by local radio talent, were catered by local food businesses and provided a John Gray specialist to facilitate the event. The author prepared a special never-before-seen video on the subject of singles and dating and suggested some ice-breaker games. The crowds at these events ranged from about 300 people to more than 700 (the latter at a Borders in Tigard, Ore., where about 400 copies were sold the same evening). There was also a Barnes &Noble cyberevent July 1, during which more than 2000 people logged on (800 of them stayed on line the entire hour). Publisher HarperCollins notes that a first-chapter excerpt on Book Central on America Online broke all records for downloads, outstripping the latest John Grisham excerpt by a ratio of more than 2:1. First printing for the new bestseller is 300,000 copies.
Volume 243 Issue 27 07/07/1997