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Author Topic: Product Placement: Inevitable?
maestro
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Babbler # 7842

posted 06 December 2005 12:49 AM      Profile for maestro     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I just finished reading "Spadework" by Timothy Findlay. I didn't buy it, I found it in a box set out for passers by just off the Drive.

I have read Findlay's "Famous Last Words", which I really enjoyed, and "The Pianoman's Daughter", which I didn't enjoy as much, so thought I would give Spadework a try.

It was pretty good, a well written story with interesting and believeable characters, and an interesting and believeable plot.

However, there were constant references to Wolf Blass wines, Sleeman's beer, and Lexus automobiles. All references had sneaky little ways of making the product look good.

The wines were always presented as being drunk on special occasions, the Lexus had a distinctive sounding motor that also had a special sound when it was shut off, and the Sleeman's were always grabbed by two's when the characters wanted to relax.

Is this now a necessary part of any novel? even by writers whom I had considered to be above such crassness?

While I enjoyed the book, I would hesitate to reccomend it to anyone for that reason, and it is really the thing I remember most about the book.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Andrew_Jay
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posted 06 December 2005 11:20 AM      Profile for Andrew_Jay        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I suppose it depends on how it's done. Sounds like these could simply be discriptions of items in the interest of providing detail to the writing.

"Carl drove up in his automobile" doesn't provide the same insight into the scene or the character as; "Carl drove up in his Lexus" (or "Carl drove up in his 1992 Civic").

I believe "American Psycho" featured a lengthy section where the character pours over the details of all of the products in his apartment. Was this crass product placement? I don't think so, but rather some interesting insight into the mentality of the character.


From: Extremism is easy. You go right and meet those coming around from the far left | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 06 December 2005 11:30 AM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was looking at this thread on my Sony monitor last night while drinking a Coca Cola, and I have to say I'm ok with product placement, as long as it's subtle.
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Syerah
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posted 06 December 2005 02:38 PM      Profile for Syerah   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
^^ LOL
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maestro
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posted 06 December 2005 06:17 PM      Profile for maestro     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'll just point out that the product references I mentioned were not developing the plot or the characters. They were gratuitous references. By the end of the book I felt I was being used by their constant reiteration.

I've read thousands of books in my life. I've never felt that somehow I was shortchanged because I didn't know what beer the protagonist drank, or which car they drove, or what department store they shopped at, unless it was central to the plot.

From: Andrew_Jay

quote:
I suppose it depends on how it's done. Sounds like these could simply be discriptions of items in the interest of providing detail to the writing.

"Carl drove up in his automobile" doesn't provide the same insight into the scene or the character as; "Carl drove up in his Lexus" (or "Carl drove up in his 1992 Civic").


I don't understand this. In what way does the car one drives provide the reader with 'insight into the character'? Does the car one drives in real life provide any insight into one's character?

I suppose one could show the relative wealth of a character by presenting the products they use, but it's completely unnecessary.

From Mr. Magoo:

quote:
I was looking at this thread on my Sony monitor last night while drinking a Coca Cola, and I have to say I'm ok with product placement, as long as it's subtle.

Of course if it was so subtle you didn't notice it, it wouldn't be product placement. In any case, this placement was definitely not subtle.

Do you believe that your choice of brand name products provides insight into your character?

Seems to me that identifying characters by their brand name choices falls completely into the Madison Ave. idea of the perfect culture. One where you buy into a lifestyle by purchasing products advertised as being an essential part of that lifestyle.

At the least I believe an author has the duty to the reader to identify those articles in the story that are placed there, not for the necessity to the plot, but for the money paid to the publishing company.

[ 06 December 2005: Message edited by: maestro ]


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Andrew_Jay
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posted 06 December 2005 06:24 PM      Profile for Andrew_Jay        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by maestro:
I don't understand this. In what way does the car one drives provide the reader with 'insight into the character'? Does the car one drives in real life provide any insight into one's character?
You don't have a different impression of what kind of character Carl might be based on what car he drives up in? It's safe to say that our Lexus driving Carl might be a bit different from out '92 Civic driving Carl.
quote:
Originally posted by maestro:
I suppose one could show the relative wealth of a character by presenting the products they use, but it's completely unnecessary.
Or, you know, maybe not.

Is James Bond the same regardless of whether he's wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a fine tailored suit from Seville Row?


From: Extremism is easy. You go right and meet those coming around from the far left | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
abnormal
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posted 06 December 2005 07:02 PM      Profile for abnormal   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In reality, unless you've got money to burn, your choice of car is generally a function of what you need to do and how much you can afford.

If you've got money to burn, the car you drive may say something about you. Otherwise, nothing. Although I suppose the statement "He climbed into his '82 Vega and drove off" says something.

Turning to product placement and cars, remember "Route 66" - couple of broke guys driving around in a brand new Corvette (GM just happened to sponsor the show).

Meanwhile I sit here, trying to make up my mind whether or not I should have another Heineken, while I'm checking things out on my ViewSonic monitor.


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Crippled_Newsie
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posted 06 December 2005 07:12 PM      Profile for Crippled_Newsie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Andrew_Jay:
Is James Bond the same regardless of whether he's wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a fine tailored suit from Seville Row?

Or driving an Aston Martin, with a Walther PPK in his pocket?


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Boom Boom
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posted 06 December 2005 07:19 PM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Originally posted by Tape_342:
Or driving an Aston Martin, with a Walther PPK in his pocket?
-
Is that a line from the next 007 film? "Is that a Walther in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

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Andrew_Jay
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posted 06 December 2005 08:36 PM      Profile for Andrew_Jay        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tape_342:
Or driving an Aston Martin, with a Walther PPK in his pocket?
quote:
Casino Royale (1953):
"A dry martini," he said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."

"Oui, monsieur."

"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?"



From: Extremism is easy. You go right and meet those coming around from the far left | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
maestro
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posted 08 December 2005 07:15 PM      Profile for maestro     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
For the record, I'll say I have nothing against brand names mentioned as part of plot or character development.

A case in point is 'The Hockey Sweater', where the Monteal Canadians, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Eaton's are mentioned.

However, I don't see these as 'product placement'. They are the story.

What I am referring to is brand names being included for no other reason than financial gain by the publisher.


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Stephen Gordon
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posted 08 December 2005 07:18 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks ever so much for bringing that lovely, lovely story to mind. And you're quite right, it wouldn't work without those references.
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Bacchus
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posted 09 December 2005 12:13 AM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
At the least I believe an author has the duty to the reader to identify those articles in the story that are placed there, not for the necessity to the plot, but for the money paid to the publishing company.



I find the thought that Timothy findley was paid to put those products in his books really funny somehow, given his nature and how he lived, quietly in Stratford with his love.

Now had you postulated a conspiracy theory that they were placed there by a editor, I might have bought that


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mayakovsky
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posted 09 December 2005 01:52 AM      Profile for mayakovsky     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This doesn't strike me as odd. If you are setting time and place then you use the terms of the time and place. If it is relevant to the plot or character. If the character opens a can of 'Campbell's' soup and dumps it into a saucepan then we know.....

Now if you were from Southern Ontario and complaining that they were drinking Wolf Blass instead of Jackson Triggs.


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maestro
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posted 09 December 2005 05:48 AM      Profile for maestro     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Bacchus:

I find the thought that Timothy findley was paid to put those products in his books really funny somehow, given his nature and how he lived, quietly in Stratford with his love.

Now had you postulated a conspiracy theory that they were placed there by a editor, I might have bought that


I must say that while my experience of Findlay's writing is not large, the product placement surprised me. I don't remember it in other writings, and he didn't strike me as the kind of author who would allow such. So in a sense, I agree with your commment. At the same time, perhaps I'm sensitive, but the references really got to me after a while. Well, whatever. I still like Findlay as an author, but that did put a dent in my thinking of him.

There was another funny thing that cropped up many times. No one in the book 'lit' a cigarette. There was a lot of smoking in the book, and every time someone 'lighted' their cigarette.

That's a rather strange usage, and I wonder if he had some point to make.


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