An intriguing idea for a children's book has spawned an equally intriguing advertising campaign. Australian import The Day My Butt Went Psycho, a spring title for Scholastic, is being publicized in, quite appropriately, bathrooms around the country.
The book, the story of a boy whose posterior is leading a rebellion of sorts, was written by Andy Griffiths, and was first published in his home country (as The Day My Bum Went Psycho) in September 2001. It has gone on to become one of Australia's bestselling children's titles ever, selling well over 100,000 copies.
Scholastic publisher and editor-in-chief Jean Feiwel acquired the book after browsing through a rights newsletter one day. "I loved the idea of the book," said Feiwel. "I loved the title. I loved everything about it and just felt Scholastic had to have it."
Since its April release in the U.S., the title has appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly, and has more than 240,000 copies in print.
The initial advertising campaign began in March of this year when Scholastic placed ads in Mad Magazine and D.C. Comics. Once the book hit the bestseller lists, they decided to "strike while the iron was hot," according to marketing manager Elizabeth Fithian. "The sales were phenomenal, but we decided to do something to alert more kids and adults about the book."
During a brainstorming session, v-p of trade marketing Jennifer Pasanen remembered seeing an ad in a family restaurant bathroom and thought this would make kids notice The Day My Butt Went Psycho. "It gave us a captive audience and was consistent with the book's distinctive humor," said Fithian.
The ads ran in more than 170 family restaurant bathrooms in major cities around the country (including Applebee's, Chi Chi's, Pizzeria Uno and TGI Fridays). "We decided to run the ads in the summer when kids have more time to read," Fithian said. "We sought out locations where kids were vacationing and dining out with their families."
According to Fithian, responses to the ads have been very positive. "There is evidence that the bathroom ads are doing their job," she said. "In addition to better sales, we've also seen a significant increase in hits on the Day My Butt Went Psycho! Web site since we started the promotion. Boys have e-mailed us to say that they saw the ads and thought they were cool," she said. "They didn't expect to see an ad in a bathroom stall for a book they were reading."
Readers can expect another uncommon ad campaign for the book's sequel coming out in March of 2004, Zombie Butts from Uranus. "Look for free, stench-defense air fresheners in our spring Zombie Butts displays," Fithian said, "and more ads in surprising places."