Have you ever got caught up in those knicky-knacky promotional plastic toy campaigns that supermarkets often run to encourage you to buy at their store? You know, as in “spend $x and get a free y” with, usually, a new one every week for z weeks, encouraging you to get them all. I’m sure you know the deal …
Well, I was rather interested to read in various outlets recently, including Books & Publishing and news.com.au, that
Stikeez are gone and now Coles have announced their new range of mini collectables will be 24 pocket-sized books from the famous Treehouse series.
Now, that’s a much better idea.
If you are not Australian, and not parents, grandparents or teachers of young children, you may not know about “the famous Treehouse series”. It started with the book, The 13-storey treehouse, written by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton. This book won the Australian Book Industry Association Awards (ABIA) Book of the Year for Older Children in 2012. Since then, this pair has produced 8 more books in the series, each book adding another 13 storeys to the treehouse, so The 26-storey treehouse (2012), The 39-story treehouse (2013), up to last year’s, or 2019’s, The 117-storey treehouse.
According to news.com.au, Griffiths and Denton “have collaborated with Coles” to produce a special set of 24 pocket-sized books for “the supermarket giant’s latest collectable campaign”. Griffiths says of this special “little” series that many of them
… will feature favourite characters from over the years and give them a chance to really shine.
There will be a couple of feature tours, one through the treehouse, some new episodes, including an elephant on a bicycle which is a sneak peek of a character you will see later in the year when the 130-Storey Treehouse comes out.
Given the huge success of the series – more than 10 million copies sold in Australia, 80 children’s choice awards and 10 ABIA Awards – this collectables campaign would, you’d have to think, be a bit of a winner for Coles. Described as a “world-first collectable campaign”, it aims, said Coles CEO Lisa Ronson, “to encourage a lifelong love of books”.
Of course it’s hard not to be cynical, when you read things like:
We all remember the excitement that Little Shop [a previous mini-collectables campaign] created for customers of all ages and we really wanted to create that same level of excitement for reading – because we know that enjoying books on a regular basis leads to improved literacy skills, better educational outcomes and happier children.
But, you know, it is about Australian books, reading and literacy, so perhaps it’s a case of “the ends justifying the means”?
Coinciding with the launch of this new campaign Coles is also running a competition inviting Australian residents (aged 3 to 18) to create their own picture book. There will be prizes and it will be judged by Griffiths. Coles “will donate a book to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation” for every entry. This is not to be sneezed at, and is, hopefully, a case where the combination of financial and social justice goals can generate a positive outcome. Let’s hope it does.
Do you know The tree-house series? What do you think about this sort of marketing-focused initiative – a cynical ploy, or a genuine attempt to do good while increasing business? And, what about the creators? Is it a good thing for them?