A Brief History of Penguin Books Ad Campaigns (Part 1)

There’s something about holding a copy of a Penguin book that makes the reading experience all the more perfect.

Long the leader in mass market publishing, Penguin Books (or Penguin Classics, as they are most widely recognized today) are probably most noted for their brilliant jacket cover designs.

In today’s tech crazy world, Penguin has had to work particularly hard to lure customers who will buy their books (remember those things?). Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at some of Penguin’s greatest ad campaigns throughout the past few years.

We’ll start with a campaign from 2008 called “The Whole Story.”

Instead of summarizing a book’s story with words, the agency chose to use a single picture with strategically placed page numbers to tell the story.

Oh, the intrigue.

What makes this campaign so great (among other things) is how it draws the reader in and allows him or her to actively participate in interpreting the ads.


While it could be argued that the ads should give us the courtesy of telling what book we’re looking at, I think it’s kind of fun to guess.

"The Great Gatsby," perhaps?

These ads manage to be suspenseful and still tempting, like I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT! It’s an adult version of connect-the-dots, basically.

I did not know "The Day After Tomorrow" was a book.

To sum it up, stunning visuals + page number scavenger hunts + no need for a copywriter = perfection


One thought on “A Brief History of Penguin Books Ad Campaigns (Part 1)

  1. […] As you’ll recall, last week I started a series looking back at various ad campaigns for Penguin Books. (You can find Part 1 here.) […]

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