Somewhere in Britain, a treasure was hidden. A jewelled golden hare, a gift from the Moon to her love, the Sun.
That’s the story told by Kit Williams in his 1979 book, Masquerade. One of my very favourite childhood books.
But Masquerade isn’t just any book; it’s a work of creative genius, and there are so many business and marketing lessons we can take from it.
Let me start at the beginning.
In the 1970s, the publishers Jonathan Cape challenged the artist Kit Williams to “do something no one has ever done before” with a picture book — so Williams decided to create a book of paintings that readers would study in detail rather than leaf through and put away.
He created a treasure hunt: a jewelled golden hare he made himself, and hid somewhere in the UK. Every painting in the book contained clues as to the treasure’s location and it became a national sensation.
It was found in 1982, but the whole idea sparked an entire new genre of books: armchair treasure hunts.
Williams’s second attempt was The Bee on the Comb — which was initially published without a title. That was the puzzle: readers had to discover the title and send it to the author.
But there was another twist — they couldn’t simply write out the title, they had to send it to him creatively to win the prize: the golden “queen bee” statuette and a unique titled copy of the book.
The winner was the person whom Kit Williams thought expressed it most creatively.
This second book was a work of marketing genius, and not just because it’s a brilliantly creative and fun idea. The contest ran for a year and a day from publication, and Williams appeared on the Wogan show to judge the entries and announce a winner.
Human brains love puzzles and treasure hunts of all kinds. Kit Williams’s relatively simple idea captivated an entire nation for a few years – and gave his art business and name a huge boost.
All he used was his skills as an artist and jeweller. Marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A great idea can be enough to spark an avalanche of interest.
I can’t promise you an appearance on the hottest talk show on TV… but I can promise if you Borrow My Brain and present me with a thorny problem or tell me you’re stuck for ideas, I will come up with a solution and ideas you can get started on right away.
Reserve your slot here. I’ve a few available before Christmas is upon us.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS Speaking of Christmas, there’s not long to go now. We’ve already started watching Christmas films – you can see my drawing of Die Hard here!