Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Product Placement Response

A non profit group is responding to the news of an official product placement in a YA novel by contacting 305 book reviewers and urging them to boycott the title.

And bloggers are responding to the response.

I have two thoughts on all this:

1. I don't think books with product placement should be boycotted. It's a free country, we have freedom of speech. I do think, however, that absolutely everyone should know about it. Such works are marketing devices in addition to whatever else they may be. Readers should be aware that they are being marketed to. They should be able to make judgments about such marketing just as they make judgments about commercials they see on TV.

2. There are 305 book reviewers?


dhamel said...

I know this is being talked about on the web but I haven't had time to follow the discussion. My gut feeling is that this isn't something to get upset about. Remember that television shows are paid for product placements all the time, and there is no explicit mention of it, though a lot of viewers are savvy enough to recognize it when it happens. Are books somehow a purer form of entertainment and thus above it all?

Gail Gauthier said...

I think people are jaded about TV in a way they aren't yet jaded about books. We've grown up with marketing on TV. We take most of what we see on TV--commericals and content alike--with a grain of salt. Marketing in books is breaking new ground.

Part of the concern about product placement is that the recent books in which such marketing has been considered have all been YA. There's a feeling that younger people are too easily manipulated, anyway, and such marketing risks exploiting them. The only reason marketers would be interested in them is that they are known to have a lot of disposable income that they're happy to dispose of.

I don't see any way to avoid this, now that people want to do it, without introducing some kind of censorship. The alternative is to be very clear about what's going on--be aware that this particular book is a marketing device.