“A story of decadence and obsession…”

Ok, so, we’re not talking about some cheap erotica novel, as it might seem from the cover of this article. Oh, and the quote above… No, no, don’t you worry. The article is not going to be filled with stories about male genitalia. Heavens, no! We’re talking about one of the most popular classics of American literature,  the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Despite the fact that this brilliant novel has sold over 25 million copies worldwide (as of 2013) and was made into a romantic drama film with two Oscar nominations starring actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, it would not even reach Amazon’s charts of best-selling Romance in English.

A question arises: How do you make classic novels so appealing that the readers would simply have to buy them? The answer is a little tricky, or in this case large, ripped, and topless. Again, we’re not talking about erot… Oh wait, we are!

Yes, this is a cover of ‘Of Mice and Men’ | Judgeable Covers

But first a little back story! The average American reads about four books a year, which is not a high number, one would say. But it gets even smaller in Brazil. Yes, as the literary market has been getting back on its feet (according to Nielsen Bookscan, sales in 2018 grew about 5% over the previous year), you can imagine that the latest bookshelf stars are not the great classics all book readers love because of their timeless stories and unique, catching narratives.

It’s not the literary works that we tend to keep close to our hearts, the current Kindle Store best-sellers list is actually full of erotic romances with suggestive covers (at least in Brazil). Yes, the covers! They usually show off bare-chested, muscular men, and—to be honest—it seems to be working.

Romantic novel covers | Judgeable Covers

We’ve been always told not to judge a book by its cover. Alas, as it seems, many avid readers are doing exactly that when it’s time to pick one of their next books. So, by judging by the article’s cover, it’s clear that this phenomenon can be taken advantage of! And that’s what ad agency Africa and Brazilian publisher e-Galaxia decided to do. They want to entice a reevaluation of people’s relationship with literature and make them give classic books a chance.

Classic novel covers | Judgeable Covers

The creatives looked at dozens of best-selling novels and analyzed their covers to find the most common features. Yes, you’re right. It’s that simple and it works: Strong male upper body, very defined muscles, usually with no specific face in the frame to ruin your imagination. Just add a heavy font with a powerful, attention-grabbing word highlighted—the more erotic and suggesting, the better—and you’ve got yourself a successful publication. Then, with this surprising data collected, the two set out to redesign the covers of classic works of literature – like The Picture of Dorian Gray, Robinson Crusoe, and Moby Dick. Now, see where we’re going?

The Judgeable Covers by Africa | Click to enlarge

What’s even more special is that The Judgeable Covers Collection had a budget of virtually zero dollars. So, despite not changing a single word from the original prints, the new editions stood out immensely from the previous book covers and suddenly appealed to a whole new demographic – and all of this while reaching the #1 spot as Amazon’s best-selling Romance in English.

You might think that it’s false advertising or that the campaign was not made for the purest of reasons, but we have to say that by changing the covers of such masterpieces to a more, let’s say, marketable presentation, these classics have now become much more appealing to readers who would otherwise not given them much thought before. And, if such a strategy ends up landing a great book in the hands of someone who judged it only by its cover, so be it, Africa and e-Galaxia’s work is done… And we can only applaud!


Title: Judgeable Covers Collection
Client: e-Galaxia
Product: Institutional
Agency: Africa
Country: Brazil

CCO: Sergio Gordilho
ECD: Sophie Schonburg
Creative Director: Bruno Valenca
Copywriter: Daniel Ogawa
Art Director: Rick Garcia, Ricardo Montes
Content Director: Filipe Botton
Director of Institutional Relations: Raphael Vandystadt
Special Projects Creative Director: Monique Lima
Special Projects Manager: Juliana Leite, Fernanda Segura
Special Projects Producers: Julia Newman, Isabela Levy, Fernando Alonso

Client Services: Fernando Alonso
Media: Rodrigo Famelli
Planning: Rafael Camilo / Iago Santos

Agency Producer: Rodrigo Ferrari
Editors: Cadu Silveira / Marssola Rodrigues
Motion: Lucas Fuse / Lucas Candido