Swarovski Lends Sparkle to Mata Hari Novel Promotion

Corporate gift customer story Diogenes

Exotic dancer, femme fatale, spy… Mata Hari’s story continues to fascinate a century after her death. Born Margaretha Zelle in Holland, she escaped small-town life and a disastrous marriage to an alcoholic diplomat in Java, re-inventing herself as an exotic dancer in Paris. Fame, and a string of wealthy and influential lovers, followed. With the outbreak of World War I, her relationships with high-ranking German officers attracted the attention of the French secret police. She was charged with espionage and sentenced to death by firing squad.

The Spy, the latest novel from best-selling author Paulo Coelho, re-imagines Mata Hari’s intensely dramatic life through a final letter written to her lawyer from her prison cell. The book’s cover features a photograph of Mata Hari, resplendent in a fabulous crystal-embellished headdress; it was this image that sparked an innovative project between Coelho’s German publisher Diogenes and Swarovski. 

Seeking to prompt interest in the book in the centenary year of Mata Hari’s death, rather than use a 2D cover image for the point-of-sale display, Diogenes went further, commissioning 10 replica crystal headpieces from Swarovski. The project took months of development, with each headdress an artistic masterpiece, highly complex and immensely intricate, featuring approximately 3,400 crystals. The replicas were displayed in custom-made cases in 10 Thalia bookstores around Germany, where they attracted huge public attention. To keep the buzz around The Spy going, Diogenes also ran a competition online and at point-of-sale, with 50 pairs of exclusive, Mata Hari-inspired crystal earrings as prizes. The collaboration was promoted via the publisher’s microsite and on social media, reaching more than 350,000 Facebook users and generating 2,000 competition entries—an unqualified success.