Friday, 16 August 2013

P...pick up a Puffin

Which brands from our childhood have the most impact on our lives? In my case, Puffin Books stands out as a major contributor to my obsession with both reading and writing - and the way the brand was marketed in the late 60s and 70s is still a text book example of marketing to children - and getting it right.

For those not in the know, Puffin books was Penguin's children's imprint. In the late 60s, Puffin's  chief editor, Kaye Webb launched the Puffin Club, whose main medium was the quarterly magazine Puffin Post. This was packed full of book reviews and previews, interviews with authors, jokes, competitions and contributions from Puffin Club members. The whole package (including the envelope) was wittily and charmingly designed by the illustrator Jill McDonald.

Kaye Webb was a woman before her time when it came to marketing. She had a Mission - to get children reading, a strategy to do this - to connect children to authors and illustrators and held the belief that the world would be a better place if more children read books. She's even quoted as seeing her role to spread "Puffinness" - a most modern idea of branding!

So many elements of the Puffin brand and Kaye Webb's approach ring a bell for 21st century marketers: added value and brand extension, a social network, 360° marketing, edutainment - it's all there. Just from the top of my mind, I remember diaries, badges, bookplates, even a Puffin glove puppet to make yourself. And there were holidays, although I never got to go on those. That's on top of all the wonderful books with their brilliant cover illustration and design.

Now, that's what I call making a difference to someone's life.

P.S. For the Puffin nerds amongst us, have a look at The Puffin Club Archive for some wonderful memories.

No comments: