Product: Isobar Pocket Reading
Category: Nonprofits & Government
Award Entry Year: 2016
From comedy snippets and family photos -- and yes, thousands of cat videos -- a great deal of content is shared by Brazilians through social messaging channels, capturing people’s attention whether they were waiting at bus stops, in a queue at the bank, or in between appointments. Rather than fight against conventional habits, Isobar decided to capitalize on all that time people spend with their mobiles by using the messaging platform WhatsApp to introduce more culture into people’s lives.
Borrowing from serialization techniques popular with telenovelas, the brand’s creative team produced a series of mobile texts containing chapters from well known Brazilian writers, all in five-minute snippets, to make reading easy and more accessible. The goal of Leitura de Bolsol, or “Pocket Reading,” was to introduce the habit of reading into people’s daily routines through an existing channel, without creating any new technology or environment. The core message: People don’t need to pay for literary content, but they can add great value to their lives just by taking five minutes to read every day.
With mobile Internet a huge source of communication and information consumption in Brazil, you’d think people were becoming closer. But on the contrary, they were just focusing on their small screens and becoming more isolated. And by 2014, some 70 percent of Brazilians hadn’t read even one book in a year -- a poor grade among a population of some 200 million people.
A key reason they were staying away from some classics was that people were intimidated at how long it takes to read an actual book. According to Brazil’s Minister of Culture, the reading index of Brazilians in 2014 had fallen behind neighboring countries -- and poverty was rising as a result. So the idea behind the campaign was to offer people an engaging, educational boost to their day by introducing reading via “literature that fits your routine.”
First, the team built a website for sign-ups with a system that was able to convert registered phone numbers into data files. All data was synchronized with main phone and transmission lists (a native WhatsApp technology resource) to incorporate new users. Snippets from short stories and novels were sent out through the system each morning with the invitation to start reading. Each piece arrived with information about the author, name of the book and estimated time of it would take to read it.
The system was set up so more than 30,000 messages could be sent every day with content from the likes of Mario Prata, Luis Fernando Verissimo and Roberto Klotz, among others. In addition to text, chapters can be enhanced with photos and illustrations.
For now, Pocket Reading works only for phone numbers inside Brazil, but soon the plan will be to extend the program send books all over the world, in several languages.
In less than two weeks, Pocket Reading reached 30,000 registered users and was deemed a huge success because of its TV, radio, newspaper and magazine coverage. It also received notice in specialized publications, nationally and internationally. Besides strong public feedback, reputable Brazilian writers also participated in the project by offering their books to be distributed to participants without any cost.
Another evolution will be the possibility of customization, with the ability for users to set regular times to receive their texts and interests in specific literary genres.