Close-Up: Client Of The Week - BOL plays on literary passion/Alexander Broich wants to entice casual book lovers online, Lisa Campbell says

German-born Alexander Broich, the managing director of the online book store, BOL.com, is absorbed in a copy of Jeremy Paxman’s revealing tome, The English.

German-born Alexander Broich, the managing director of the online

book store, BOL.com, is absorbed in a copy of Jeremy Paxman’s revealing

tome, The English.



Having worked in London for less than a year, he is keen to learn more

about our culture and, more especially, our reading habits.



BOL.com, which is owned by the German publishing group, Bertelsmann, has

been operating in the UK for the past ten months and since November has

been promoting its titles through M&C Saatchi’s ’love books?’

campaign.



This week it unveils new advertising which asks us the same question

about music.



The ad is set at an international conference at which a Russian delegate

makes a passionate speech. As the other delegates listen to the

translation through their headphones, one in particular appears to be

very moved by the delivery. However, it soon becomes apparent that he is

not listening to the speech at all but to rock music. The ad ends with

the line: ’Love music? Buy online at BOL.com.’



The work continues BOL’s strategy of establishing an emotional bond with

consumers - an absolute necessity in the intangible world of e-commerce,

according to Broich. ’If you have a virtual product or shop that people

can’t see, brand-building becomes a very important part of your

strategy.’



Tapping into the positive feelings people have about their hobbies seems

like a dream brief for agencies but, Broich says, it’s not that simple:

’We saw a lot of interesting ideas in the pitch but there’s always the

danger when promoting books of having an elitist touch.’



This explains M&C’s use of humour in the commercials. Although they

portray obsessive bookworms, they avoid doing it seriously so as not to

alienate more casual readers.



BOL’s advertising also aims to challenge Amazon’s domination of global

online book and CD sales. But Broich claims the battle is diminishing as

the companies head in different directions.



While Amazon is moving into areas such as electronics and toys, BOL says

that it will only stretch the brand as far as videos and DVDs. ’We will

continue to focus on the product and people’s relationship to it. ’Love

film?’ works, for example, but ’love petfood?’ or ’love electronics?’

doesn’t.’



BOL plans to sell films online by the summer, accompanied by another ad

campaign.



Assessing the company’s success is difficult. Neither Amazon or BOL have

released traffic figures although BOL is set to do so. Broich stresses,

however, that he has his sights set on the wider market, as online sales

account for only 2 to 3 per cent of the overall book market. Other media

products such as games and CD-Roms are in the pipeline.



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