Don’t Let Go

An interactive audio novel on Spotify, soundtracked by Hurts and read by Anna Friel. Have Spotify installed? Listen here.

The brief

Find a creative way to reach the potential audience for Hurts on Spotify, introducing the band and their upcoming debut album.

The insight

Hurts’ potential audience of 21–24 year olds (62% female / 38% male) were abandoning Radio 1 in favour of listening to music on Spotify.

Our challenge was to reach this audience on Spotify, get them excited about Hurts, and get them listening to some of the music in advance of the record’s release.

The light bulb moment

We looked at Spotify as a platform and realised that at heart it’s a huge search engine for audio content. We also realised that Hurts’ label could publish tracks directly into Spotify via the feed they use for commercial releases.

We had the idea of creating an audio novel, and realised that we could use a combination of audio “chapters” and Spotify’s search engine to create an interactive experience, rather like the Choose Your Own Adventure books you might have had as a kid.

The novel

We commissioned hotly tipped author and friend of the band Joe Stretch to write the novel. It was written in the second person (in the manner of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books), and read by actress Anna Friel. Each of it’s 87 chapters were published as individual products on Spotify, using specially coded artist and track names so the chapters wouldn’t show up in a typical search.

Throughout the experience players hear extracts from “Happiness”, and if they reach one of the story’s eleven possible endings without dying, they’re rewarded with an exclusive preview track from the record.

After listening to each chapter, the player is offered a choice of what to do next, along with a unique code for each action. Typing this code into the Spotify search field brings up the next chunk of the story.

The action is set in a strange and dreamlike world, centred around a large country house. Players must attempt to stop the villainous Guy Lockhart from distributing his heartbreak cocktail and condemning humankind forever to a loveless, empty existence.

The launch

Spotify liked the project so much they gave us £76,000 worth of free media to promote it, including a 3 day takeover of the service’s home screen. They also allowed us to run the first chapter of the novel as an audio ad which proved extremely effective at luring listeners into the story.

The results

  • In the week before Happiness was released, we had 236,288 players.
  • 12,181 of these reached one of the story’s 11 conclusive endings (a commitment of at least 12 mins).
  • 18,244 people clicked to Amazon to purchase “Happiness” (1/2 of all UK sales in month 1).
  • “Happiness” itself was streamed over 1.5 million times during the week of the campaign which is an extremely high number of streams compared to Spotify’s norm, especially for a new artist.
  • We reached our 21–24 target segment very effectively as shown by the graphs from Spotify below.
  • The project became a case study used by Spotify to promote advertising on the platform.
Graphs from Spotify showing that we reached our target audience effectively.


Agency team

Sony Music / Major Label
Marketing Manager
Ben Townley
Creative Directors
Phil Clandillon & Steve Milbourne
Joe Stretch
Voice Actor
Anna Friel