What does the wolf say?


The biggest coolest wolf lives in south east asia, and we’re pretty sure it doesn’t say Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!

The big bad wolf is an annual book fair that takes place in Malaysia, it was started by Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng in 2009 after knowing that only 2% of Malaysians read, (I can’t imagine the percentage of readers in Egypt if that’s the case in Malaysia!). If you are living in Malaysia and haven’t heard of the big bad wolf, then you’re living under a rock!

The big bad wolf is a great case study for how to change people’s behavior when it comes to reading by changing their attitude towards it, great communication design and marketing strategy! Here are three things that make The big bad wolf remarkable:

1- No finger pointing and a lot of tone minding.


The Big Bad wolf has a different story line every year, this year the wolf was a pirate who had to travel the 7 seas to steal incredible books for his readers in Malaysia!

What the big bad wolf doesn’t do is tell everyone that Malaysians don’t read, and Malaysians should read, how reading is incredible and how no one is doing it, and how the country is going to doom if they don’t, WHY U NO READ MALAYSIA!!

That is finger pointing! The problem with finger pointing is that it reminds people of what they are doing wrong and sticks on them a label with their bad behavior, and when you label someone, even if they don’t fit that label, they become it! And reminding people of jaw dropping statistics doesn’t always work: firstly, it can backfire because it hints to people that everyone is already doing it “98% of Malaysians don’t read, well everybody isn’t reading, why should I!”. And so it gives the social proof that supports the behavior you’d like to change. Secondly, scary statistics only jumpstart change, but after a while they become demotivating, if you constantly tell me that “20% of x live in poverty” first my shock and sympathy will get me to help x by any means, but by time if I don’t see a change in this statistic -which is not likely to happen in a short time period- I’ll get demotivated and feel that whatever I am doing will not matter, that this is bigger than me.

2- Reading is cool!

There is no fancy way to say it, they simply made reading books a cool thing by showing that people who read books are cool and crazy, and not geeks and nerds who are always adjusting their specs! Here’s what they did so far:

  • Mid Night book shopping!
samira midnight book shopping

Samira, my housemate, pulling an all nighter!

Somedays you go clubbing at midnight, others you go book shopping! A crazy idea, but they pulled it off! 24/7 book shopping experience. Even if you’re not a dedicated reader, you’d want to go and check what all the buzz is about “Seriously At 3 AM! Are they shopping for gold!”. As for book lovers who would actually go book shopping at 3 AM, it’s such a shocking thing to tell people! Last year I went there at 4 AM and spent 3 hours, you can’t imagine how many insane people where there! It was packed!! Came back at 7am super tired then my dad calls and I go “I’m so tired, was out all night book shopping.” He didn’t believe me until he saw the books I got!

  • The craziest book shopping poses!


Another insane idea that they also pulled off! The winner of the craziest pose wins an Ipad or a preview pass for next year. (photos “borrowed” from their fb page)

  • What’s the damage?

showing off book spines

I am not sure how this started, but it’s a great way to spread the word and to show social proof. Same as sharing a photo of your new shoes on facebook, people show off their book spines! And they sort of get into a competition of who bought more books! or check if they bought the same books, or if they are into the same things. Insane I know!

When it comes to changing attitudes of people, you are working on their emotions, how they feel towards this behavior. If people think that reading is uncool, that libraries are for nerds, then don’t give them another reason to think so!

3- Embedding it into culture

only in malaysia

That’s what you show case and what you promote! Malaysians go book shopping at Midnight, and not Malaysians why u no read!

Do you notice the difference? Using the right tone and no finger pointing messages or scary tactics, along with working on changing the attitudes of readers will easily lead to embedding it in ones culture. Not to forget that the big bad wolf delivers what they promise! Even the graphics of the banners are all local designs, meaning they have local elements, local tone, local sense of humor. So slowly by time, book shopping at Midnight will be the norm in Malaysia. We like to be consistent, so if you’re Malaysian, and you order lepak at mid night, you’ll also go book shopping at mid night! Because you are Malaysian, and this is how Malaysians do it!

I sadly didn’t meet the Big bad wolf this year! But am sending him a big shout out from Egypt!! AWOOOOOO!