Barnes & Noble Is Hoping Summer Reads Are Still a Thing

By Minda Smiley 

Struggling bookstore chain Barnes & Noble (which recently sold itself to a hedge fund) is making some sort of last-ditch attempt to win the hearts of consumers in the hopes that people will take a break from scrolling through Instagram this summer and actually read a few pages of a book.

We were rooting for you, Barnes & Noble, but sadly these spots fall flat. The majority of them resort to tired stereotypes (suburban moms just LOVE frisky romance novels, amiright?!) and corny humor (can’t a dad with two rambunctious sons just get a little peace and quiet??).


Perhaps the best ones are the spots that feature this guy, who puts an absurd amount of energy into his role as a fantasy-obsessed Barnes & Noble worker.

He also appears in three shorter ads for the brand, each one riffing off of the other as he struggles to complete a long-winded sentence in the six-second time frame. Clever concept, but TBD if this “retargeting” effort will actually resonate with … anyone.

The point of the campaign is to show that Barnes & Noble employees, unlike Amazon’s faceless algorithms, are avid readers themselves and can help just about anyone find the perfect beach read. It’s the classic “humans vs. technology” angle that the retailer got on board with last year when it started working with Havas.

We’ve gotta hand it to Havas, though: marketing books for a brick-and-mortar retailer is a difficult double whammy if there ever was one. Hopefully, this breaks through.