Audible targets ‘glitch’ campaign at ‘Armchair Orwellians’

Audible targets ‘glitch’ campaign at ‘Armchair Orwellians’
Audible's 1984 special build on London's Southbank. Credit Wavemaker.
The Media Plan

Amazon’s audiobook service Audible launched a three-phase disruptive and immersive campaign to promote its new rendition of George Orwell’s classic 1984.

Alex Valerio-Smith, planning director at Wavemaker which handled the campaign, told The Media Leader that “no page was left unturned’ in the campaign, and the high-impact media activations were designed to inspire and capture attention.


The campaign strategy was separated into three phases: tease, launch and amplify.

The tease phase, or “Winston’s Warning”, delivered “dystopian disruptions” across different mass media channels “letting our audience know 1984 is coming”.

Ten-second “glitchverts” distorted showings of Dune 2 in Digital Cinema Media (DCM) and Pearl & Dean cinemas nationwide, which were replicated across GroupM Nexus’ advanced TV on broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) platforms.

In the launch phase, or “1984 Revealed”, Wavemaker orchestrated “media interventions” and “extreme takeovers” across OOH, press, TV and audio with partnerships and special builds. These were timed for 4 April to coincide with the first diary entry in the book by narrator Winston Smith.

‘1984 is everywhere’

Across London Underground and TfL stations, OOH special builds featured an Orwellian monitor, with “glitching” DOOH screens and ribbons “completing the dystopian effect”.

Copies of Metro UK with a cover wrap featuring one of the famous “doublespeak” lines from the story were placed in the same stations.

Audible Original 1984 Metro newspaper wrap. Credit Wavemaker. Resized.

Audible Original’s 1984 Metro newspaper wrap.

Through a Channel 4 partnership “glitches” featured in the continuity stings and in a hero 60-second spot next to Taskmaster. This was repeated BVOD, with pause screens carrying a “glitched” 1984 hold screen.

The Guardian included a full digital print and audio takeover, with bespoke print and digital articles delving into the relevance of 1984 in 2024, and audio ads ran across the newspaper’s podcasts including Today in Focus.

The final phase, or “1984 is Everywhere”, created an immersive deep-dive into Audible’s production directed by Mass Amplification.

In this phase, there was also activations across a mixture of premium immersive placements and creatives across Nexus Audio, social, online video, advanced TV and Acast podcasts.

Valerio-Smith highlighted the collaboration with the creative agency Alphabetical to ensure every piece and every asset fit with the media strategy and comms phasing as a critical part of the campaign.

‘Armchair Orwellians’ and superfans

One area the campaign had to address was that while many people “feel they already know 1984“, so have not read it.

Valerio-Smith said: “This means there is a huge audience that are warm to the novel but just need a gentle nudge to read it – dubbed Armchair Orwellians.”

Through audience research, the “continued relevance and poignancy” of the dystopian novel was “the secret” to its success. For example, when Donald Trump was elected as president in 2015, 1984 became an overnight bestseller as the themes “seemed eerily familiar”, Valerio-Smith said.

The resonance with modern Britain and parallels with 2024, is something both “Armchair Orwellians” or casual fans, and superfans alike cited as the reason to engage with the novel.

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