Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett meet cute and cold in Barnes & Noble

Forget books. Barnes & Noble is where shoppers go to mingle this holiday season

Bookseller Barnes and Noble has enjoyed something of a turnaround in recent years, mostly by focusing on anything other than selling books..

For the 2014 holiday season, the retailer — which now operates fewer than 650 retail stores in the US, down from a peak of 726 in 2008 — began selling items like craft beer kits and portable turntables to supplement its book inventory. For the fiscal year ended May 2015, even though revenue continued to dip, the company actually reported a profit.

For its 2015 holiday ad campaign, Barnes & Noble is reminding customers "You never know who you’ll meet at Barnes & Noble." To wit, a 1-minute commercial featuring known duet buddies Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett walking the aisles singing "Baby It’s Cold Outside" without realizing the other is there. 

The message, of course, is that you can buy books anywhere. But retail stores still provide an in-person experience you won’t get online. 

The tag line, which was penned by B&N chairman Leonard Riggio himself, reflects the role that stores like his currently play in people’s lives.

"I’d been thinking about physical books, digital books, future store concepts, and the essence of what is it about us that makes us who we are," he said. "The idea of the meeting place, the piazza, is so much of what we’ve become across the country."

Likewise, Torrey Plank, SVP account director at New York’s Roberts + Langer, DDB, which made the spot, said he felt the ad "isn’t a strategic shift as much as it is a reflection of the way so many of our customers currently use our stores."

The ad, which was directed by Grammy award-winning Swedish director Jonas Akerlund, is currently running in prime time on ABC, NBC Universal and CBS. 

Campaign credits

Client: Barnes & Noble
Agency: Roberts + Langer DDB
Chief Creative Officer: Andy Langer
EVP, Creative Group Head: Lynn Mercado
EVP, Creative Group Head: Amy Sacks
SVP, Account Director: Torrey Plank


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