Monday, August 23, 2010

How Far Is Too Far???

**CONGRATS to nymfaux who won the signed copy of THE BODY FINDER!**

With the advent of DVRs, commercials seem to be falling by the wayside, so advertisers are finding more…shall we say "creative" ways to attract our attention. And maybe creative is a bit of an overstatement. Maybe in-your-face would be more accurate. It’s a little something we like to call Product Placement.

It’s actually nothing new. It’s really not DVRs that have spawned this event. Remember ET? That adorable little alien who stole our heart-lights back in the 80’s? Did he not make your mouth water for those delectable Reese’s Pieces? It just as easily could have been M&Ms you were craving if the Mars company made Spielberg the right offer.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mind the shift toward product placement. Not even a little bit. It can even be entertaining, as long as it fits into the story. It can be as blatant and obvious as 30 Rock’s McFlurry episode (which, paid for or not, was sheer marketing genius!). And, which I might add, made my mouth water for the almighty McFlurry. Well played, advertising gurus…well played!

So, where does this product placement end, I wonder? Surely not with TV and movies. When will we see it bleeding into the pages of the books we love? And, more importantly, do we care?

In TWILIGHT, Bella drinks Coke. In Justin Cronin’s mega-hit THE PASSAGE, he mentions Nikes. I even did it when my main character in THE BODY FINDER goes for a run and listens to her iPod, and not her generic mp3 player.

But as an author would I be willing to change the soda that my characters drink based on a check I receive from PepsiCo? Or to change a setting to a certain fast food joint just for some extra change in my pockets? I don’t know…how much are we talkin’???

And what about the covers? Those beautifully crafted covers that we drool over? Should there be ad space for sale on those? Banner ads? Logos?

I don’t know…that may be too far even for me (and those of you who know me understand that “too far” is not a phrase I know well).

So, maybe “Sell-Out” is not my middle name. But I’m not ruling out “Apple” or “Charmin” or “Skittles”, you know, if the price is right….

But I want to hear your thoughts on brand names popping up in books. Does it bother you? Would it bother you if you knew the author was selling the right to have it named? Could you give a flip either way? And what other books can you think of that name actual brand names???

I’m giving away a signed copy of THE BODY FINDER, all you have to do is leave a comment by midnight on Wednesday, August 25th. One random winner will be selected!

What do you think: Kimberly Amazon Derting???

46 comments:

Bella said...

It doesn't and wouldn't bother me if done in a way that's not too obvious ... for example, it doesn't seem too strange when a character drinks some coke, or listens to an i-pod, or speeds around in their silver Volvo (*ahem*), because that's the kind of stuff that we all do on a regular basis, so it doesn't scream PRODUCT PLACEMENT!! But I have read some books where the brand names have jarred me out of the story, because there have been so many unnecessary ones! We don't need to know every single brand that your character wears / eats / drinks / etc. If I knew that authors were being paid to do it, I'd only care if it went over the top ... however, if they started showing up on covers, I'd be pissed, lol. I mean, there's a time and place for everything. Subtlety is ONE thing, but I wouldn't buy a book with an advert on the front :o

Si said...

it wouldnt bother me. infact i would like the fact that i can imagine which brand the character is using... i mean books are all about imagination fr me n i would love to know that my fav character is carryin a pepsi bottle or a addidas bagpack. jus so much easier to imagine somethin u've seen..:P

Zita said...

I'm all for anything that allows writers to keep writing. If that means ad copy on/in books or product placement, I have no problem with it. And I certainly have no objection to writers getting a few extra bucks out of it. If Nike can endorse some random athlete to hawk their shoes and pay them obscene amounts of money, then they can certainly pay authors to write about their characters wearing Nikes. I mean, every discriminating demon slayer wears Nikes on night patrol, right? Or is it Adidas? Do I hear a bidding war coming up?

Nicole said...

It doesn't bother me as long as 1. it fits within the story. If the author is just adding it in for the hell of it... ahhh no! or 2. it's not every other page. Again, if it benefits the story, great. If not, don't waste my time...

Onge said...

It depends on how it is used. I'm ok with it if it is not used all the time and if it doesn't stand out. For me if it's obvious product placement it takes away from the book because it seems out of place. It should be natural.

Lindsay said...

Product placement in books doesn't really bother me, since I don't think an author would sacrifice anything major just for a few thousand bucks. Switching the name of a drink, for example, wouldn't change the story a bit.

As far as the covers go, I don't think that will happen. Books are quickly going digital and it wouldn't pay to put an add on the cover.

HOWEVER, with things going digital, I wouldn't be surprised if one day you open up your e-reader, turn the page, and BOOM-- a 30 second ad that you have to wait through before you can read on. They do it on youtube, e-readers would work just as well.

Sara M said...

It doesn't bother me, as long as it flows with the story and doesn't feel like blatant product placement. Many people I've come across refer to all soda as "coke" and I've actually come across a couple people that thought an mp3 player was a kind of iPod and not the other way around. These things are so ingrained as a part of life, that it's natural for them to show up in books. Now, naming every specific product within the book (like using iPhone instead of cell phone or Sony laptop instead of just laptop) would feel forced, but the occasional product here and there makes the story feel real.

Moonsanity said...

It doesn't bother me within the context of the story. I have wondered though how many supernatural guys/gals drive Escalades. LOL Seems they are in every other book I read:)

I think putting in the covers would be a tad over the top though. LOL

tsalvatore said...

It doesn't bother me, I think if it fits the story why not.

Jessica said...

It doesn't bother me to see namebrands in books. I've seen it before, as early as my reading days back in middle school. Teenagers were wearing Raybans, not sunglasses.

It doesn't take away the effect of the story either way. So why not? If they go to McDonald's instead of a burger joint, who cares?

Namebrands don't bother me when reading. Although when writing, I do wonder if it's okay to use such names without explicit permission. Is it okay to do such without getting permission from the company?

ilona said...

Namebrands in books don't bother me and if the author got extra money for it thne that's OK too. However it would bother me if the brand stuff took over from the story or appeared on the cover as that smacks of too far for me :D

van_pham said...

it doesn't bother me, I probably wouldn't notice because ill be too engaged in the story itself.

Danielle said...

It wouldn't bother me if the book mentioned brand names unless it got to be extreme were everything mentioned the brand.
I can't think of any books I've read that do this or I just wasn't paying attention.

Katie Dalton said...

On the cover? No I dont want to see it there. Unless..maybe like some ladies have mentioned its used in the right way. But my first thought is no not the cover. :)
ismellsheep.blogspot.com

Kimberly Derting said...

I will say that I don't know of any authors who've actually received kickback for named advertising, it's just an interesting thought to me. What will be the next big marketing platform???

And Lindsay - UGH! You bring up a valid point, how far are we from pop-up ads on our e-readers? I'm not sure I'd approve at all!

And Sara - I kind of think those products are the ones that have marketed themselves the most geniously. How many people call it a "tissue" instead of a Kleenex? And Xerox is practically synonymous with photo copies.

Jessica - I've wondered that too and always assume that if I ever crossed a line that my publisher would surely let me know. ;)

Sharon S. said...

doesn't bother me. I am reading for the story and characters. That they like Coke vs Pepsi doesn't matter (Pepsi girl here!).

donnas said...

If it fits in the story I dont care. Normally when it comes to something like Coke or Pepsi or IPod's I figure its the author either putting in their preference (in the case of drinks) or a brand name that will get the biggest recognition (IPod's, etc). If they were getting a check for it, oh well, as long as it doesnt change the story, it doesnt matter. But ads on covers and spines, I think would be taking it too far. Those have nothing to do with the book.

linaramz said...

As long as it's not overdone and it fits well in the story and helps you know the character I'm fine with it. If it's thrown in a story for no reason and way too aften I start to roll my eyes, it can get a little irritating when it's overdone.

Barbara E. said...

I've noticed some TV shows have been doing more product placement lately, such as Warehouse 13 has one of the characters craving Twizzlers. I read a book not long ago that had a lot of brand names mentioned in it. It didn't bother me because they were popular brands that fit in to the story, but I did notice it. I don't think I would mind, especially if the author maybe got a little something for the mention, but the cover? That would be too much!

mariska said...

it doesn't bother me. when the author mentioned in right time and right place, and not repeating the brand name in all entire book, i think it would okay.

uniquas at ymail dot com

Casey said...

Usually I see it as more realistic - if the name is used in passing and doesn't seem like an advertisment.(Characters using stuff I use/going places I go makes me think that I "could" be like that character.) But sometimes if the products are actually advertised then it becomes annoying.

c4casey [@] comcast [dot] net

Helen Lowe said...

I think it's like the conversation(s) we had on sex a couple of months back--if the use of the brand fits the story, eg the example of Twilight Bella drinking coke etc, then it's fine. But if she's attending the "Nike Cola Apple Toy(ota) Vampire High" then I think we're definitely in sellout zone. Wearing my reader hat, I'd probably stop right there. As a writer--probably depends on how starving I am in my garret that day/week/year.

JenM said...

In general it doesn't bother me when it's just the occasional reference, but I've read books where there are two or more brand name mentions on every page, especially at the beginning of the book when there tends to be a lot of description.

In some of the "humorous" paranormals, dropping lots of brand names for clothes, shoes, etc almost seems to be used as shorthand to show how shallow or materialistic the character is supposed to be. That totally annoys me and I tend to throw those books against the wall.

I don't mind if authors get paid for product placement - hey, anything that helps pay the bills and keeps them writing is okay with me as long as it isn't too intrusive.

Jacqueline C. said...

If it suits the story and doesn't feel tacked on, I couldn't care less if there was product placement (provided there was a disclaimer somewhere in the book).

A lot of Meg Cabot's books make plenty of pop culture references and they completely suit the novels. Of course, they also have a tendency to date them as well.

nymfaux said...

ok, first I have to address the ereader thing, because youtube and most of the internet is free, so if watching an ad before checking out the free content is what I have to do, then whatever--but I BOUGHT my Nook, and I BUY my books, so I say HELL NO to ereader pop-ups.

As for ad placement in books, I like seeing brand names in books--I think it adds authenticity--I like it when they're used descriptively, like colors or anything else, just as long as it fits with the contents of the story.

As for BAD ad placements...Anyone seen the KIN on PLL, or the car on Make IT or Break It???--I can tell the difference between when I'm watching the show, and when someone's trying to tell me something....

The GOOD ad placements are when you can't even tell.

GB (formerly JD) said...

Not only has 'coke' become the generic term for a 'dark brown beverage item' but band-aids were once only a name brand and, if the movies are to be believed in use of the local vernacular, the US calls a tissue a 'kleenex'. There are probably more, but I can't think of any right now.

A great movie for product placement is Josie and the Pussy Cats from 2001. It's completely over the top and deliberately so. :)

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

Sorry, maybe I'm in the minority, but it irritates me when I'm reading a book and it is specified the character is drinking a Pepsi Light, is dressed in Nike sweatchirt with Adidas sneakers. WHy isn't it enough to state he's wearing sneakers? I would rather read a detailed description of how they look, feel than see its brand.

I don't mind actors, authors, celebrities endorsing brands, but please don't include those in books and movies, leave them for the ad campaign!

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

Lea U. said...

It doesn´t bother me at all as long as it fits within the story and the author doesn´t overdo it.

I even think it´s a good way to connect to the characters. I mean how cool would it be, if your hero/heroine has the same iPod as you? Or the same T-shirt? Or likes the same brands as you?

It gives me (the reader) the feeling that my hero/heroine is just as normal as me and that´s a really thrilling thing to see.

Lea_Ulbort(at)live (dot) de

Giada M said...

If I remember well in the Anita Blake series Laurell Hamilton mentions nikes. It doesn't bother me if there is one or two brands. But It does bother me If there are too many or if I knew the author was selling the right to have it named.

Sue S. said...

I kind of like namebrands in books. It just helps you visualize it better. Sure they're wearing running shoes. But what kind of running shoes? Each brand has a distinctive style to it. And by naming the brand you can better visualize what the character is wearing or whatever vs what we want them to wear with a generic description.

Shari C said...

I would find no problem with brand names being mentioned if it isn't overdone and if used tastefully. I am not sure if I would care to see brand names on the cover though. Somehow that seems to be too commercial feeling to me.

Melissa said...

I agree that as long as the placement goes with the story I am OK with it. Nothing wrong with making some extra change as long as it works in the story.

Wenj said...

Honestly, I doesn't bother me a bit. We see product placement in everything, so why should it being written within the pages of a novel be offensive? As long as it isn't a paragraph long advertisment that throws off the flow of the novel I see no harm in it. I mean, we don't need a stitch by stitch detail of those Nikes or need to know how refreshing the Coke is, do we? That's about the only way I would see it as being too far.

Now ads on the covers? That's a different story. A cover should intice you to read the story, not sell other products. Somehow it would just really detract from the lure of a novel.

John (johnnie_cakes) said...

I'd like to say it doesn't bother me, but I recently read the new Armistead Maupin book and he used brand names a lot. It's something he's known for, and uses it to capture the pop culture of a time period, but it was overdone and really distracting.

With all the talk of new enhanced ebooks, i don't think it would be long before they started having pop up ads in them.

Cylver said...

As many people here have said, it doesn't bother me as long as it suits the story and is not totally obvious. It would be annoying, though, to have a scene in which two people are talking while emptying grocery bags, and pulling out Lays potato chips, a bottle of Coke, Del Monte green beans, etc. There is a great scene in the Wayne's World movie with a bunch of really blatant product placement.
A lot of writers use product placement as a way of describing a character's wealth: wearing Armani, for example, or driving a Bentley, or drinking Dom Perignon. And that's fine, as long as it's not taken to extremes.

Lisa B. said...

To me, it all depends on what brand name is being dropped. I mean, if the author feels they need to use it, maybe for a clearer visual such as a brand name iPod as opposed to a gnereic MP3 player, I can unerstand, but Charmin? Really? Who NEEDS to know what kind of toilet paper the character uses? Unless it's a mystery and this clues us in to their personality. Now, Kleenex, I can so see, I mean who wants to write "facial tissue" or something. To me, it's all about adding something to the story, not taking away from it. With or without brand names, as long as the author stays true to the story I'm in.

Patricia Lynne said...

I don't see the big deal. It makes the story more real, that item is in our world, we go to it or buy it and so do the characters.
Honestly though, I would hope ads and banners do not pop up in books. I see them enough everywhere else. Books are for fun, not product advertising. as long as it fits in the story fine, but if you're doing it just to get a check well, =P

Sweet Rachel! said...

It doesn't even click in my head when brand-names are mentioned in books. when I do notice, I like it though

Ashley said...

It wouldn't bother me if accessories and what not in books had brand names. I know some readers like myself tend to fashion our clothes after what we read in books and knowing the brand would make it that much easier. I hope they leave the covers alone though.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Carrie S. said...

It doesn't bother me to see namebrands either in books. Really sometimes it's how I refer to things, like Ipod vs mp3 player. As you said!

Sylvia said...

I actually like brand names when I'm reading. That way, I can imagine myself in the same world as the characters!:)

Melissa said...

Honestly it is so common, you really have to put a spotlight on it before I really recognize the product placement... if it is done correctly so it doesn't distract from the book/movie that is... :)

Kris said...

I personally wouldn't care if skittles gave you a million bucks to mention them in your book. More power (and money) to 'ya! Now if you talked about said candy on every page *eh* I wouldn't read the book LOL! Ad space on the covers? No...I think that's a bit to much.

Is Twilight a brand name? Probably? I just finished reading Pretty Little Things which is packed with Twilight this and that. It was a great book though. (The kid in the book was an Edward fan.)

Madison said...

Mentioning brand names within your writing can be good in a realistic setting, allowing the reader to identify with the character all the more. But then again I would be extreamly disappointed if brand names were bluntly advertised in the story I was reading. It would stick out like a sore spot in an otherwise good novel.
As for adding advertisments to the covers of books,I would begin to seriouly doubt what the world of literature has desinegrated to. The cover of a book is what draws a reader in, adding a logo there would only add judgment to the pickings of books.
Thoroughly loved The Body Finder!

Kimberly Derting said...

Congrats NYMFAUX, you won the signed copy of THE BODY FINDER!!!!

nymfaux said...

YEA!!!!!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! I'm SOOOOOOOO excited!!!!!!! :)