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2023 One Show - Cultural Driver

The Unburnable Book

Agency Rethink + Penguin Random House / Toronto

Client Penguin Random House


Popular Culture Impact

Annual ID


About the Work

According to a recent PEN America report, book banning in U.S. schools and libraries has reached unprecedented levels, with some elected officials even suggesting burning books deemed “inappropriate.”

As one of the world’s largest publishing houses and the publisher of one of the most banned books of all time — Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale — Penguin Random House needed to make a strong statement.

So Penguin created The Unburnable Book: a one-of-a-kind edition of The Handmaid’s Tale made entirely from fireproof materials and designed to be impossible to burn.

The single, special edition of The Handmaid’s Tale was intentionally designed to look and feel exactly like the original, but to be fireproof up to 2600 degrees fahrenheit. It was printed on Cinefoil pages using heat-resistant inks, bound with nickel copper wire, and hand sewn with stainless steel. All materials were thoroughly tested at a range of temperatures and using a variety of flame sources to ensure the book would not burn.

Then, it was tested by 82-year old author Margaret Atwood – with a flamethrower – in a video that was shared everywhere from major news outlets like The Washington Post to Late Night with Seth Meyers.

The book itself launched at the PEN America Gala in Manhattan and was auctioned off at Sotheby’s NY, selling for a whopping $130,000 with all proceeds going to support PEN America, an organization that fights censorship and promotes freedom of literary expression.

Most importantly, the campaign ignited a global conversation about censorship and was covered around the world – garnering more than 12 billion impressions and over $35 million in earned media.

2023 Awards

Total Points: 21





Jared Bland

Client / Brand

Penguin Random House / Toronto

Production Company

Asymetric / Toronto

Music / Sound Production Company

Oso Audio / Toronto

Post Production Company

Darling VFX / Toronto
Saints Editorial / Toronto

Art Director

Caroline Friesen


Robbie Percy

Chief Creative Officer

Aaron Starkman

Creative Director

Caroline Friesen
Robbie Percy


Brooks Reynolds

Director of Photography

Kiel Milligan

Executive Creative Director

Mike Dubrick


Sean McDonald


Steve Lam


Daenen Bramberger
Harry Knazan


Club Ink / Toronto

Broadcast Producer

Alex Butt

Digital Designer

Dustin Gamble

Digital Producer

Kyle Hicks

Director of Broadcast Production

Steph Walker-Wells

Director of Client Services

Marie Lunny

Director of Digital Content

Todd Harrison

Director of Print Production

Aj Merrick

Editorial Lead

Lianne George


Kassi Bellamy

Graphic Design

The Gas Company Inc. / Toronto


Iseault McNamara


Alexa Salsberg

On-Line Assistant

Russell Hanson

Print producer

Agnes Gilchrist

Printing & Fabrication

Doug Laxdal
Jeremy Martin

Printing & Props

Joe Scout

Pyrotechnics & VFX

Gustavo Franco

Studio Artist

Todd Bennett

Studio Director

Brad Kumar

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