As I was reading my daily "PR Issues & Trends" e-newsletter, an article titled, "Read Any Good Ads Lately?", was archived that discussed how products are placed in books. Whenever I think of product placement, I usually think of TV and movies - products that we can physically see being used by a character. I don't usually think of books. So I thought, is this means of product placement actually present in advertising and the media market? I looked into it further and found that the answer is indeed yes.
The article talks about Los Angeles writer, Mark Haskell Smith, who penned a book with much use and incorporation of the Lexus brand and their cars in his book. Prior to the publication of the book, Lexus took part in much intense focus-group sessions and realized that "potboiler fiction would be a great advertising hook to reach a younger, hipper client base." Hence, Smith was able to do it for them and penned his novel, "Black Sapphire Pearl," that as Smith describes, is "really cool and different and literary...It doesn't read like an ad." Oh, but it is. Lexus is viewing this work as promotion and hoping people who read the book will see their product in a positive light and will make a purchase. Smith is reaping the benefits, too, as his story is published in three different publications of Lexus quarterly magazines. Publicity for Smith, unexpected exposure for Lexus.
I found another example of where this practice was taking place. This article mentions a young adult novel called "Cathy's Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233." It describes the main female character wearing "killer coat of Clinique #11 'Black Violet' lipstick." Product placement! Then, in the final edition of the book, the reference to Clinique now is changed to the character using Cover Girl's "killer coat of Lipslicks in 'Daring.' " Lipslicks is one of their popular lipstick line and it turns out that Cover Girl manufacturer, Procter and Gamble, signed a marketing deal with Running Press, a company that is publishing the novel. Therefore, Cover Girl gets its publicity of its lipstick and authors, Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, will have their novel promoted on Beinggirl.com, "a Web site directed at adolescent girls that has games, advice on handling puberty and, yes, makeup tips." Product placement is definitely out there in books!
I am not a big reader of novels, but when I do read a book, I never really think of product placement or notice it being used. I am sure that my favorite book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, has some products being placed in there somewhere. I will have to dig out the book from my desk and look. I will post at a later date what I find. In the meantime, pull out your favorite book and see if a brand is mentioned somewhere in there. There may be a contract between the product and the author, there may not be, as well. Either way, I feel that it can be an effective way of product placement and advertising. So go back to the question of the article and answer it for yourself. I am sure you will find something.