Epica went international for the first time in 2012, so it’s appropriate that one of the top prizes went to an entry from the United States. And what an entry!
Its combination of traditional and digital media, as well as its staggering results, trumped the competition. More than that, it was a brilliantly simple idea that struck an emotional chord.
The background was this: a public library in Troy, Michigan was threatened with closure unless the city’s citizens voted in favour of a small tax increase to save it. The anti-tax Tea Party group, high-profile and well-funded, urged people to vote “no” on August 2. The library needed to fight back.
With the help of Leo Burnett Detroit, it came up with a radical idea. It posted signs around town saying: “Vote to close Troy Library on August 2. Book burning party on August 5.” These led to a Facebook page. Outraged comments spilled over into a fierce debate on Twitter. Despite the fact that we live in a digital era, no-one wanted to see the library’s books going up in flames.
Leo Burnett stoked the fire by posting videos of burning books, offering souvenir items – T-shirts and even a book bag – placing newspaper ads, putting up flyers and creating a Foursquare check-in. On the Facebook page, the news that a band had been booked for the party provoked further outbursts.
The debate spilled over into national media. Finally, on the Facebook page, the library revealed its true intentions with the line: “A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books.” On August 2, voters turned out en masse to save the library.
The fake book burning party – the Trojan horse that saved Troy library – captured the imaginations of a jury of writers; and readers.
Leo Burnett Detroit (UNITED STATES)
|Troy Public Library, "Book Burning Party"||21-01036-DM|
Agency (city): Leo Burnett Detroit
Creative Director(s): Peter McHugh, Glen Hilzinger, Bob Veasey
Copywriter(s): Glen Hilzinger, Rob Thiemann, Mike Davis
Art Director(s): Bob Veasey, Derek Tent
Agency Producer(s): Jennie Hochthanner
Creative Technologist: John McClaire
Creative Services Director: Tony Booth
Troy, Michigan couldn’t afford to sustain its library, so it scheduled a vote for a tax increase. A strong anti-tax group waged a dominating campaign against it. Using reverse psychology, we posed as a political group and posted signs around town that said, “Vote to close Troy Library Aug 2, book burning party Aug 5.” We invited everyone to our Facebook page, adding Twitter, Foursquare, want ads, flyers and more to drive engagement. The campaign became international news as outcry over the idea of burning the library’s books drowned out the opposition and galvanized support for the library - which won by a landslide.