Kindle needs enthusiastic readers for its devices and downloads, and in Brazil that poses a problem. Brazilians read an average two books a year, 44% do not read at all, and 30% have never purchased a book in their life.
We needed a disruptive approach that could deliver on a minimal budget. That’s where João Doria came in. São Paulo’s new Mayor was a successful businessman and reality TV celebrity (Brazil’s version of “The Apprentice”), and a savvy media promoter. Among his first acts was “Pretty City” (Cidade Linda), a 2018 beautification project that painted over the largest graffiti wall in Latin America. The art of more than 200 national and internationally renowned graffiti artists was erased with gray paint.
The Mayor’s action incited public controversy, and that’s where we saw an opportunity for Kindle to make an artistic statement.
We used the now infamous gray wall as our canvas to project quotes from famous works of literature, including 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. We called out the Mayor’s actions – “Have they covered the city in gray? We have covered the gray with stories” — and signed our illuminated graffiti with #MovedByStories.
We filmed the stunt, launched the video on social media, and waited for the Mayor to respond. When he did it, we were ready to announce a free e-book download to every person in São Paulo.
Detractors were upset that São Paulo’s vibrant street art had been destroyed. Supporters had declared it an eyesore, and backed Mayor Doria’s actions. We used this polemic to bring Kindle into the public debate.
Since the 2014 presidential election, the political clashes of “left” and “right” have intensified in Brazil. Conservative movements connected to some right parties are organized, with many followers. Most of them strongly supports João Doria and manages websites that use bots to spread “fake news” and discredit opponents.
We knew that Mayor Doria himself and his followers would be quick and harsh in responding to any criticism of “Pretty City”, which played right into our strategy. The back and forth news cycle had people waiting to see the next move, and we had a big one: a free e-book download to every person in São Paulo. And they even didn’t need to have a Kindle device.
We filmed Kindle’s “literary takeover” of the gray wall, and launched the provocative video over the weekend. The Mayor’s reply came fast and furious: his own video questioning Amazon’s motives. Now the story spread across Brazil — in print, television, radio and social media.
So Mayor Doria publically asked the company to donate on behalf of city hall, in a clear attempt to kidnap our narrative. But we had everything set. Within two hours, we had a video of Amazon announcing the donation of one e-book to all 12 million residents of the city, besides donation of Kindle devices to NGOs partners of Amazon.
The Mayor and his allies kept feeding the news cycle, calling out Amazon, asking for the campaign to be taken off the air, and even launching virtual attacks on our agency and other collaborators.
In other words, it went perfectly.