Biz How To: Behind the Scenes of a Press Kit

by Cat on January 11, 2011

We get to go behind the scenes of that amazing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies press kit for our biz how-to today! There are so many aspects to creating a great press kit but capturing the essence of the product as well as the attention of the press, consumer or retailer it’s targeting are at the top of the list.  Branding Agency 160 Over 90 was given the dubious task by Quirk Books to come up with a campaign for the NYT bestselling book and they did not disappoint.  I was particularly impressed with two bold decisions they made about the kit:  a. not including any explanation about the package and entrusting the contents to do the “talking” and b. going into highly detailed measures to capture the book and character down to little strips of zombie dressing.  Creative Director, Brendan Quinn, was gracious enough to share his insights on what went on in the making of it. Thank you 160 Over 90!
Photos by Tom Ammon/160 Over 90.

How did the idea come about to promote the book this way?

The short version: the book is really creative and fun, and we wanted to do something just as interesting to promote it. Our client, Quirk Books, is constantly pushing the envelope with book publishing and we wanted to do the same while marketing one of their most popular titles.

The long version: The book itself is about inserting something unexpected into an familiar setting; in its case, putting zombies into a classic Jane Austen novel. So we thought, “what if the novel’s characters had access to the internet? How would they behave? What social media would they use?” That unearthed so many ideas-from Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds, to Cupid dating profiles and boutique Etsy shops that were such perfect ways of expressing the book’s sense of humor. So we knew we could create these funny profiles and sites, but we needed some way to get the word out. And that’s where the idea of these really elaborate mailers came from. So we identified key members of the press, as well as bloggers with interesting audiences, and sent them this mysterious package from Elizabeth Bennet. It includes a copy of the book, a custom-made zombie survival kit and a note from Elizabeth that directs them to the social media pages, which is what we hoped the media and bloggers shared with their audience-which, thankfully, many have.

So much care and detail came into contents…down to zombie gauze and stray wrappings… how was this created?

We knew the success of it would depend on making it really stand out and getting all the little details right. So we considered what objects would be in a 19th century zombie survival kit and brainstormed ideas-gauze, balms to heal the bites from the undead, smelling salts, soaps, etc. And we made one sample box at the office to show our client, Quirk Books, what it could look like. They loved the idea and then we had to figure out a way to make a hundred of them. Our production crew scoured the corners of the internet to find both box itself and everything that went inside of it-all the cool vials, jars, tins and other containers for the various products. After getting all the pieces together, we hand assembled them at our office and hand labeled them ourselves. Between the bath salts, the tiny vials, and the scent of soaps, our office briefly felt like a 19th century opium distribution center. But rest assured, there is no opium or any other illicit drugs in the package.

Why the choice of doing this vs. a press packet?

Press packets tend to get lost in the shuffle or skipped over entirely. They’re expected. And this book is anything but expected. So we wanted to make something that was not only mysterious and really interesting that invited people to open it up, but also had value to the person afterwards. The box itself is super cool and we hope the press folks and bloggers use it afterwards. And the soaps, lotions and balms and all the other products are totally legit. In fact, the folks in our office have never had such wonderfully smooth and exfoliated skin. We’ve put 7 of the kits up on Etsy on Elizabeth Bennet’s “Lizzy’s Apothecary” store, and they all sold really quickly. It was a bit of an unintended side effect of the campaign, but people seem to love them, which is very cool to see.

There was no note, leaving us to open the box and discover what was inside…what was the experience or impression that you had intended for someone receiving this?

First, we wanted people to receive the package and wonder what the heck it was, and let the story unfold when they dig through the box. When they open it up, the first thing they see is the book, which is obviously the thing we’re trying to promote. But then as they dig deeper, they start seeing this really well-crafted collection of soaps, handkerchiefs and all kinds of cool stuff, and again, really wonder what the heck this thing is. And they read the note from Elizabeth and learn it is all part of her attempt to help people survive this zombie attack that her family is experiencing, which they can read about online through all the various facebook updates, tweets, blogs, YouTube videos and the rest of this online world we created. In fact, we hope your readers follow their online lives, because there’s a lot of really funny things to discover. You can check to find out all the different elements of the campaign. And of course, you should go buy the book, because it’s awesome.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Pumpkinbear January 11, 2011 at 7:03 am

Good lord, that’s the coolest thing that I’ve ever seen! Must get on the press kit mail-to list. Okay, must become very influential, THEN must get on the press kit mail-to list.


Lea January 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

So much thought and care went into that–Love it!


CraftyLauren January 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Seriously impressive


Wanda Wed January 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I can’t believe I missed the ebay auction! The book and zombie kit amazing…what a great way to get my daughter to read a classic (twist on classic).


RookieMom Whitney January 11, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I received the press kit as well. I admired all the contents and then reused the mini vintage suitcase as a giftbox for two locally-made tshirts I bought my husband for the holidays. I won the award for most original wrapping at my family holiday.


liberty January 17, 2011 at 11:10 am

this is really inspiring and amazing!


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