Summary

We made ‘political writing into art’ in a creative content and PR campaign for The Orwell Foundation.

Objectives
  • Raise the profile of The Orwell Foundation and The Orwell Prizes.
  • To create videos to announce the longlists, shortlists and winners of each prize category.
Results
  • Created a series of typographical films to announce the prize categories, longlists, shortlists and winners of each of the Orwell Prizes, gaining over 440K organic video views on Twitter alone.
  • Secured a feature with The Times to announce the prize shortlists, reaching a circulation of 4.2 million.
  • Created a prize sticker for the winners’ books, now seen on bookshop shelves.
440K
video views on twitter
4.2M
coverage reach
How we did it?

In George Orwell’s essay ‘Why I Write’, he declared what he most wanted to do was “make political writing into an art”. Between February and July 2020, we worked with the charity set up in his name, the Orwell Foundation, creating a range of content to showcase long and shortlisted entries in the Orwell Prizes. 

The prize categories films

We’re always thinking of new ways to tell stories and never has that been truer than with filmed content during lockdown. Originally, our plan was to film judges in person at an event at Tate Modern but with restrictions our team started thinking differently. Rather than another Zoom or Facetime film, we decided to place the importance on the words in a series of typographical style films to announce each of the four prize categories: Political Fiction, Political Writing, Journalism and Exposing Britain’s Social Evils, sponsored by the brilliant Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Our first film received 160k organic views on Twitter and the second was shared by Penguin Books UK!

The longlist films

The typographical films went down so well with the first series with both the client and social media response, that we decided to continue with the same style to announce the longlist of nominees for each category. It’s Orwell after all: words matter.

We had one of the highly esteemed judges on the panel for each category, narrating each of the films. Judges’ voices featured included broadcaster Stephanie Flanders and former Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly.

Orwell Prize Political Fiction Long List from Working Word on Vimeo.

The shortlist films

Recreating the format, we made another series of 10 films for the shortlist announcement: a film for each of the categories, and a dedicated six films for the Exposing Britain’s Social Evils category. From a human slavery investigation on an ice cream van empire, to the unjust incarceration of people with learning disabilities by the NHS, this award is an accolade for journalists from outlets like BBC’s Newsnight, The Guardian and The Bristol Cable, who shine a light on some of the darkest corners of the country.  

The narrators of these films included British Broadcaster Iain Dale and 2019’s winner of the category, Vice’s Max Daly, adding to what was already an outstanding mix of talent surrounding the awards.

PR

What would Orwell make of a contact-tracing app? That’s the question our team pitched The Times, earning a 500-word feature from director of The Orwell Foundation (and official historian of the BBC) Jean Seaton. Orwell’s novel 1984 prophesied a future where Big Brother watched citizens’ every step. If that feels a bit close to the bone right now, read Jean’s thoughts on the Times’ website here. What Orwell would have been interested in is scrutiny and awkward truth and they’re alive in the shortlists for the Orwell Prize, announced in conjunction with the Times piece, for Political Writing, Political Fiction, Journalism and Exposing Britain’s Social Evils. 

Announcing the Orwell Prize Winners

In July, the winners were announced in four categories - Political Writing, Political Fiction, Journalism and Exposing Britain’s Social Evils - with winners in the last two categories revealed in a live discussion with Matt Chorley on Times Radio. With the usual ceremony cancelled due to Covid-19, our team made a suite of design-led video content to run through shortlists and herald the prize-winners. 

The Book Sticker

Following the success of the announcement films, Orwell (not George, the Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm author, but the organisation preserving his legacy!) commissioned us to design a sticker that would be sent to the publishers of the longlisted, shortlisted or winning titles. The sticker would then be printed on the covers of selected titles.  

Not long after we designed the sticker, Picador did a whole print run with our Orwell sticker emblazoned across the new cover of Kate Clanchy’s ‘Some Kids I Taught & What They Taught Me’. You can now check out our design in Waterstones, Blackwells and on Amazon.