The Great American Read, a PBS program that began in May, is an eight-part series celebrating reading and told through the lens of America’s 100 best-loved novels. In a survey conducted by YouGov, a demographically and statistically representative audience of more than 7,000 was polled about their favorites, resulting in the list’s creation. The program, hosted by Meredith Vieira, examines these literary works and includes testimonials from celebrities and authors, culminating in the first national vote to choose “America’s Best-Loved Novel.”
The nominated books for The Great American Read span multiple genres, periods in history, and places, both real and fictional—taking readers to new places and on new adventures.
In keeping with that spirit, the PBS creative team brought the journeys to life with book-inspired vintage travel posters— each uniquely representing and capturing critical themes from the books—inviting readers to take a trip to new and exciting locations.
“People who are purely passionate about books read because it takes them to another place, it takes them on adventures and journeys they might not be able to take in real life—they can get lost in these books,” said Lori Dicker, senior director of digital marketing and social media at PBS. “We as a creative team talked about how to transport people. We wanted to bring these journeys to life in a really vibrant and engaging way.”
The posters are inspired by books ranging from Don Quixote to Alice in Wonderland to 1984. Some are subdued, while others are more dynamic and comical. Above all, the posters are about creating a sense of adventure with images, iconography and typeface. Each of the 15 hand-illustrated posters took several months to make, and the downloadable collection is available during the summer and fall on social media.
Leading up to the finale in October, PBS launched the “Summer of Reading” initiative, a multi-platform campaign that includes two Facebook Watch programs and a The Great American Read Book Club Facebook group with more than 35,000 members. Additionally, other media were designed to strike an emotional chord with readers, connect them with other book lovers, and take them on journeys, much like the books themselves.
Client: Public Broadcasting Service – Social Media and Digital Studios Programming teams
Creative Agency (poster work): TVGla