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Stories create books, books create stories, says HarperCollins

The campaign, conceptualised by Taproot Dentsu, looks at the power of stories and the fact that books open up a world of unimaginable possibilities

Roshni Nair | Mumbai | January 24, 2017

Stories-create-books-books-create-stories Click on the Image to watch the TVC.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

These words spoken by Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore or just plain Dumbledore -- one of the most intriguing characters ever written – capture the true beauty of the written word, of books.

They must be magic if they can make you root for people who don’t exist, they must be magic if they can transport you to places with the flick of a page and they must be magic because what else could they be?

Celebrating this magic and their 25 years in India is HarperCollins with their latest campaign aptly titled ‘Stories create books’.

Conceptualised by Taproot Dentsu, the campaign was launched at the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2017. The film was launched on social media on January 20.

The film starts with an old man holding a novel while travelling in a bus. As the bus stops at a church, he forgets the novel behind. A young man notices the book and picks it up to give it to him but the bus leaves. We then see a young woman board the same bus and take the seat adjacent to the young man. She notices the book in the young man’s hands. Seeing her interested in the book, the young man hands it to her and gets up to leave when his stop arrives. The woman wants to give the young man the book back but he asks her to keep it.

When the woman turns to the first page of the book she sees the message “If lost, please return to Soharab Pittawala” inscribed on the very first page along with a phone number. We next see the woman seated in a cafe, typing out a “Hi” to the number mentioned in the book. When there is no reply, she gets restless and makes a call to the number. The phone call reveals the story of the old man who had originally left the book in the bus.

“We made this short film to celebrate our lifelong passion for storytelling. Something that simply reaffirmed the power of stories and the fact that books open up a world of unimaginable possibilities. And in Taproot Dentsu we found the perfect partner. Narayan’s love for the written word and Titus’ spontaneous creative impulse were the perfect combination. We all have a story and we love stories -- and we thought this was a great way to say it.”

Narayan Devanathan Narayan Devanathan

Commenting on the insight behind the campaign, Narayan Devanathan, Group Strategy Officer, Dentsu India, said, “In the advertising business, we keep talking about how we are all story-tellers. Here was an intriguing brief that had us create a story about stories, without the story-teller intruding. When we asked Ananth ‘What do you want to happen as a result of this?’ he said, “The outcome I want is for the viewer to say ‘I want to pick up a book now!’ after seeing the film.” The insight was—in retrospect—very simple. Each of us is a story-creator, sometimes not knowing that’s what we are, mostly not knowing what triggers await us around the corner. That’s the basic reason books appeal to us: they tell the stories we believe we could have created. After all, our lives are a series of stories.”

Titus Upputuru Titus Upputuru

Speaking about his experience working on the campaign and the story behind the line ‘Books create stories. Stories create books’, Titus Upputuru, Creative Head, Taproot Dentsu Gurgaon, said, “HarperCollins is such an iconic brand with about 200 years of history. It was a great experience to work on this brand. Ananth’s brief took me back to my literature days. Books contain stories. But I thought there are stories that exist outside the books as well. That’s how the line came up. Books create stories. Several stories emerged from this line. We just decided to break the campaign with the Firoza one.” got in touch with a few bookworms and this is what they had to say about the campaign.

Prathap Suthan, ?Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer at Bang In The Middle, loved the ending but wishes the film was sharper.

“I loved the ending. It tells the viewer that all kinds of possibilities can happen. And it leaves and brings up many plots in the heads of those who watch. It has the ability to engage viewers. However I thought the first part of the film -- the bus journey, while it possibly was kept for misleading the audience -- wasn't quite needed. The film would have been sharper and perhaps more powerful with the lady discovering a lost book in a cafe, and after reading, goes on to call the number.”

Navonil Chatterjee Navonil Chatterjee

Navonil Chatterjee, Chief Strategy Officer, Rediffusion Y&R, felt that the film was ‘just right’.

“The fact that stories create books is fairly obvious. But books too can create stories? Well, that was a first! You know in life you sometimes come across moments, where everything feels ‘just right’. This deeply moving HarperCollins ad seemed to evoke that feeling. The length of the narrative, the buildup, the music, the title of the book shown in the ad, the twist at the end which the viewer knew was coming (though the nature of it was not something even the viewer could anticipate) but not the girl character in the film when she dialed the number – everything seemed just right.

Poet John Keats had once said, that poetry should leave you in a state of 'sweet unrest’ and this ad seems to have the same effect on viewers by answering some questions and leaving some other questions unanswered. Did the old man always deliberately leave behind copies of this particular book in public places, just in the hope that one day he will get ‘that’ call back? His wait for that call is almost a reminder of John F Fitzgerald’s creation, the Great Gatsby’s throwing of lavish parties where a ‘certain simplicity of heart was the only token of admission’ -- Gatsby threw these parties where anybody could walk in, just in the hope that one day his Daisy would drift in to his domain. More proof that books don’t just create stories, they even connect stories.”

Nisha Singhania Nisha Singhania

Nisha Singhania, Co-founder and Director, Infectious, found the idea powerful but she did not connect with the ad film.

“I think the idea is powerful and has a lot of potential -- however this particular ad did not connect with me. I am not a big fan of using misery to sell products. The ad left me feeling sorry for the old man but no connect whatsoever with the book or the brand.”

The TVC:



Client: HarperCollins

Agency: Taproot Dentsu

Chief Executive Officer, HarperCollins: Ananth Padmanabhan

Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, HarperCollins: Sonali Singh

Group Strategy Officer, Dentsu: Narayan Devanathan

General Manager, Taproot Dentsu Gurgaon: Harjot Narang

Creative Head, Taproot Dentsu Gurgaon: Titus Upputuru

Business Lead: Sunita Prakash

Agency Producer: Dawa Lama

Production house: Absolute Productions

Executive Producer: Prafull Sharma

Director: Srinivas Sunderrajan

DOP:  Jay I. Patel

Music: Arijit Datta

Art Director: Sumayya Shaikh

Editor: Shahnawaz Mosani

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