Bringing Audible’s Queer 18th century period drama into the modern world
Find out how we helped Amazon’s Audible retell one of Queer history’s forgotten love stories through trailblazing influencers and trusted community spaces.
Audible Originals’ 18th century podcast – Hell Cats – deserves to be heard by anybody interested in Queer history or the lives of LGBTQ+ icons. So, when we partnered up with them in November 2020, we knew we had to position the period drama in a way that would reach the millions of individuals it was made for.
Did you know the rise of audiobooks and podcasting has resulted in over 15 million listeners in the UK alone?
Thanks to the brilliance of Carina Rodney (Writer), Kate Saxon (Director) and the diverse cast of 52 voice actors, we were confident the podcast would have no trouble enthralling the huge pool of audiophiles, but first, our job was to make sure they knew about it.
Today, we discuss our awareness strategy and approach when working with Amazon’s audio and podcast service, Audible, on the promo of their original series – Hell Cats.
Decisive partnerships and occupying online space
One of the obvious ways of promoting a new show or podcast is through adverts. Though effective, the sell is hard and obvious, and nobody likes being sold something they didn’t sign up for. So, the strategy here was to partner up with relevant Queer media brands and occupy their online platforms naturally.
At a time where the nation was under lockdown, individuals were turning to digital spaces more than ever before, especially the LGBTQ+ community. One of these safe spaces came in the form of leading Queer publication, PinkNews.
OMG UNITE devised a partnership with PinkNews whereby a series of editorial pieces about Hell Cats would be published on their website and shared across social channels. Four advertorials were published between November – December, exploring the podcast series in-depth and positioning it as an unmissable tale for the LGBTQ+ community and those interested in forgotten Queer icons.
These editorials seamlessly fit into the interests of PinkNews audiences, making them the perfect adverts for the series described as “a gripping tour de force of audio drama” – PinkNews.
For the community, by the community, through the community
What made this project even more superior was authenticity within the cast. Erin Doherty, Michelle Fox, Fisayo Akinade and Jonathan Bailey all belonged to the LGBTQ+ community, making the show a celebration of Queer talent as well as Queer history. In other words, Audible’s Hell Cats was made for the LGBTQ+ community by the LGBTQ+ community. So, it was only right that it was transported through the LGTBQ+ community as well.
As mentioned earlier, this was all about creating an authentic dialogue that avenues the podcast to the listener. We secured the right platform – PinkNews, but what if we could amplify this reach even further?
The next step was to actively seek out influencer talent known for their positive and inspirational presences within the LGBTQ+ community. Our strategy here was to engage these leading figures in creating their own personal story content directly linked to the themes of Hell Cats for further awareness of the series.
Working with Recipe, we sought out queer influencers, representing the various intersections of LGBTQ+ identities, who were familiar voices on the PinkNews platform and who could speak to their audiences authentically on the subject of trailblazing and queer icons. The chosen talent included five queer women and non-binary people: Chelcee Grimes, Charlie Craggs, Jamie Windust, Liv Little and Char Ellesse.
Non-binary Writer and Model, Jamie Windust, spoke about how although Hell Cats is a story “full of gender discussions, drama, sex, pirates” taking place in the 18th century, it is still relevant to trailblazers today.
Char Ellesse further emphasised the notion when she stated: “As much as they are pirates, the heart of the story is about trailblazing women. I feel like we would probably run in the same circles if they were about now.”
Having the influencers share their personal stories and alignment with Hell Cats, not only strengthened reach, but it also demonstrated how the themes of Hell Cats were still vastly relevant and relatable to 21st century LGBTQ+ members.
The result of authentic allyship and collaboration in media
What was the challenge?
Hell Cats is a fast-paced tale of 18th century girl-power, cutthroat adventure and an enduring love affair inspired by the true story of Anne Bonny and Mary Read. These characters were the most notorious female pirates of all time and this story was very niche at the outset. We needed to drive enthusiasm and engagement with a new genre-defying series.
How did we solve it?
By collaborating with PinkNews, Hell Cats’ promo was able to leverage the Queer publication’s website and social media channels to drive engagement and enhance the conversation online. Similarly, we were able to increase awareness and build trust with authentic influencer figures and talent, successfully positioning the podcast as an unmissable part of Queer culture.
What were the results?
Hell Cats has been extremely well received (4.8/5 rating) and the awareness campaign with Audible was a resounding success. We were able to build a rich narrative for the show amongst PinkNews audiences and brought forgotten Queer history to life. The combined activity came to 40% above the upper end of PinkNews’ performance estimates.
We were then able to create additional related content as promo for Hell Cats through our influencer network which included the following influencers:
Charlie Craggs (She/Her)
Charlie Craggs is an award-winning Transgender activist, author and presenter. She has been described as “the voice of a community” by Vogue and was number one of the New Radicals list (2016). Charlie Craggs is a significant member of the LGBTQA+ community and has been donned one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK (Rainbow List).
Liv Little (She/Her)
Liv Little is the founder of gal-dem magazine – an online and print media company run by women and non-binary people of colour. She founded the magazine when she was still at university, in hope of creating a safe space and loud voice for her community. Liv is an award-winning writer, consultant, creative director and curator and has been listed as one of BBC’s 100 Women.
Jamie Windust (They/Them)
Jamie is a public figure and contributing Editor for Gay Times. They are also a presenter and model as well as award-winning writer and author of ‘In Their Shoes: Navigating Non-Binary Life’. In the past, Jamie has written for The Independent, British GQ, Cosmopolitan and more, and has been named as one of London’s most influential people (Evening Standard: Story Telling).
Char Ellesse (She/Her)
Char Ellesse is a model and content creator but above all she is the founder and director of Girls Will Be Boys – an online Black & Queer owned storytelling platform. Char is determined to redefine gender norms and break down barriers that put people in binary boxes. She is famously known for her short film ‘OMG She’s Bald’ where women and non-binary people discussed ‘losing their locks’ and finding sexual empowerment.