Product Placement in Books
But publishers, who apparently are feeling the bite of falling profits from just publishing books, are constantly looking for new ways to make money because the “uh oh, what’s next” is already here. Cover Girl and Perseus Books Group have partnered to create a cross media ad campaign. Cathy’s Book written by collaborating authors, Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, feature a young girl trying to discern why her boyfriend broke up with her. In the galley, the story features the heroine using a “Clinique” lipstick. In the final printed version, the product placement is now a Cover Girl “Lipslick.”
Although no money is being exchanged, the barter system is working for both companies. At its Beinggirl.com, Cover Girl will run a banner ad for the book. The book was been further modified to include more product placement for Cover Girl items. The use of products is not unique. Chick lit books are littered with product placement. (I view these as writing “cheats” because they provide an urban cache to a heroine without actually having to show the reader that the heroine is urban).
But this isn’t the first product placement in a book. The NYTimes, reporting on this deal, mentioned that Bulgari, an Italian jewelry company commissioned Fay Weldon to write a book featuring the company. She did so and published the “The Bulgari Connection.” Ms. Weldon claimed that the book was excellent regardless of how it came about. It gives a new twist on the “idea store” writers are always lamenting.
Commercial Alert sent out an email to over 305 book review editors asking them not to review the book. At Bookburger, a YA review site, the bloggers feel that this Clinique and Cover Girl are two very separate brands and that it does change the message of the book. They don’t like the cross platform branding.
If you are in the publishing business to make money and “not suffer for your art” (TM Laura Lee Gurhke) then maybe authors should be contacting Estee Lauder, Timex, or Ford. Maybe Julie Kenner should have collaborated with Givenchy when writing her Givenchy Code. She could have inserted 12 references to Givenchy and been paid an “undisclosed” sum of money for it.
The next Quinn effort can be On the Way to the David’s Bridal Wedding and Laura Lee Guhrke can write In the Serta Marriage Bed. When author’s run out of ideas, they can contact the advertising supported Idea Store where companies bid for the right to have their book written. I like the Timex Transport featuring Timex watches that have time traveling ability. Or the Coach Contraption where the Coach bags help the heroine nab the villian and the hero in one swipe of the magnetic clasp. Alison Pace could have written If Levis Strauss had a Girlfriend. It wouldn’t have made any difference if the hero, Ian, was a jeans designer, right?