‘2022 sounds like 1984’- Zack McDonald of B-Reel takes us behind Storytel’s chilling campaign

2022 sounds like 1984

With ‘2022 sounds like 1984’ campaign, Sweden-based brand, Storytel gives an immersive re-telling experience of the classic dystopian novel, giving the audience an opportunity to sample their service.

Sweden based audiobook brand, Storytel, recently released a chilling campaign which is an adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel – 1984. Developed by the independent creative agency B-Reel Stockholm, the campaign is an immersive retelling of 1984 and portrays the similarities between 2022 and the book 1984.

We deep dive into the making of the campaign with Zack McDonald, Executive Creative Director, B-Reel.

The Campaign

Zack McDonald, Executive Creative Director at B-Reel expressed, “The objective of the campaign was to get as many people as possible to listen to Storytel’s innovative new take on George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984. It’s an immersive audio experience that is closer to a premium HBO series than a typical audiobook. Given the political and cultural climate that we all live in today, we felt that Orwell’s story was more relevant today than it’s ever been. Many of us working on the project were massive fans of the novel and felt a real sense of responsibility and honour to bring this new version to the world.”

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The Name

The audio experience comes at a time when media repression, false narratives, mass surveillance, and boycotting culture are at the top of news stories. The terrifying awareness that our contemporary reality and the dystopian fiction of George Orwell share is at the heart of the original idea that ‘2022 sounds like 1984’.

Zack added, “Early on in the process we landed on the line ‘2022 sounds like 1984’. The clear parallels between the news of the day and the plot of 1984 were hard to ignore and definitely set us on the path. Knowing that audio is so key to both the Storytel brand and this story, in particular, we aimed for a clever play on words that had a double meaning that we felt really worked.”

The Objective

Zack expressed, “Our aim from the beginning was to create a campaign that felt less like a typical ad for an audiobook or audiobook service and more like a blockbuster trailer for a must-see piece of entertainment.”

He shares that this approach feels like a big shift for both Storytel and the entire audio category. “Hopefully we’ll see more of these elevated ‘event’ style campaigns for audio releases in the coming months. I, for one, am a huge fan of audio-tainment and feel like what we’re seeing is only the beginning.”

The centrepiece of the 360 campaign is a short video that gives Orwell’s classic tale a contemporary spin and teases a dystopian future that springs up in Storytel’s 1984. The campaign plays the role of a wake-up call, urging everyone else to experience it for themselves.

Beyond the unsettling parallels between the book and our life, the commercial also draws attention to the stunning equation 1+9+8+4=22, which became a major theme of the campaign.

Zack stated, “There’s so much paranoia and authoritarian mind games in 1984, so we really encouraged the creatives on the account to dig deep into the world of conspiracies and put on their tin foil hats. This resulted in a lot of truly ‘out there’ ideas, scripts and random thoughts, including the equation that became a focal point in our campaign. It still blows my mind.”