Novels and writers, to a great extent, have avoided the obvious trappings of: additional revenue; cross-pollination marketing; and direct promotion through product placement. Though with the convergence of: new media; literature; technological; keyword referencing and updating, this may all soon change.
In 2006 embedded marketing messages were written into the young-adult targeted novel Cathy’s Book. The writer, publisher and Procter & Gamble conspired to product place Cover Girl products through out the story. Brands have historical been referenced by writers to add texture and framing to characters but in this case products were replaced for paid placement. Originally the protagonist applied Clinique, however this changed to Cover Girl cosmetics. In exchange the book would be heavily promoted through the P&G website Beinggirl.com, a website directed at adolescent girls. See full article USA Today
The book heightened this connection through a cartoon created by the protagonist, championing the phrase: “Artist! Detective! UnderCover Girl.”
By targeting keyword selection, narratives in books could be updated with specific trend shifts or product launches as online books are purchased. This unlike movies–where saturation is at exhaustion and the noise of promotional clutter is blinding–can reconnect with the intimate space of reading. Where imagination embellishes the written word to develop personal experiences, experiences that rely substantially on the two-way exchange of author and reader. This activating of persuasion (Smith, 2005) in such a private setting is not only cause for alarm but brings into question the degradation of an art form.
One other well documented case was: ‘The Bulgari Connection’ the book caused uproar amongst the literati. The publisher and author received a five figure sum from jewelers Bulgari in exchange for mentioning the company twelve times in the book’s narrative. Full article at Salon
This is not patronage of art or a commission but a weaving of commercial product placement into the fabric of a trusted medium of expression. Leave it to the Soaps I say!
Smith, R.D. (2005). Strategic planning for public relations (2nd edition). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. London.