Is “Sell-Out” My Middle Name???

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 had 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?

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…maybe? How much are we talkin’???

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 “Coke” or “Charmin” or “Skittle”, you know, if the price is right….


JD said…
I’m just glad that I can finally write (without being called a sellout) the “tell all” book titled THE ADVENTURES OF THE DURACELL BUNNY! The world will FINALLY learn the real, unedited, hard-hitting story about this creepy little bunny! I may have to go into hiding once its out though. :)
Alea said…
Definitely an interesting thing to think about. And when I saw that picture of E.T. I almost died, he scares the hell out of me!
Heidi Willis said…
What a great post! In the first page of my book I mention Sunny D and Pop Tarts, and someone criticized me for choosing the easy way out (when apparently I should have said jelly filled toaster pastries and orange flavored corn syrup crap - his words, not mine!).

That, and I didn't even get paid for it! Not to consider myself a sell-out, but heck ya I'd use Pepsi's name instead of the word soda, not only for the check (which would probably equal more than an advance!), but for the specificity of it.

While watching ET lately with my kids, I also noticed the blatant product placement of Raid - which seemed really out of place and obvious - and the generic soda cans, which would have seemed less obvious had they been some brand. I think ET is the first movie I remember that did that kind of product placement.

Phew! Long comment! Sorry! I loved this post, though. Some really good things to talk about.
OMG, Alea, I started cracking up when I read your post! I'm sorry I scared you. Ha!

Heidi, I name things all the time. People would have a difference reaction to "jelly filled toaster pastries" than to Pop Tarts. Think about it, branding is a part of our culture, and those products smart enough to have made a name for themselves deserve the credit, right?
Alea said…
HAHA! I don't know why I'm still afraid of him but I am! We used to (probably still do) have this little E.T. keychain (why!?!?), and my little sister would hide it in my room. She was evil! And then one time she put the tape in downstairs and turned it up really loud so I would have to hear it, pure evil I tell you!
i couldnt do pepsi but Id sell out to Coke or maybe Mac. I think Id have to like the product and it would have to fit with my character. Maybe hershey would pay me in chocolate?
PJ Hoover said…
The few product names I have, I normally put in for personal reasons - like it's something special to me for one various reason or another.
But that said, money does talk :)
Ok, Shelli, paid in chocolate? Now that's an idea! If you don't call Hershey, I will!!! ;)

PJ, I don't actually have many either, but if it comes down to what Heidi was saying about calling something a "jelly filled toaster pastry" or a Pop Tart, I think Pop Tart will actually mean more to people. Or maybe just change it to "toast", right?
Suzanne Young said…
This cracked me up! I try not to name things directly in my book, but shoot! Maybe I should!

I def wouldn't reserve cover space for advertising... but I'd consider maybe blog space. Pepsi? Pizza Hut? Anyone?