11 May 2009

To Brand Or Not To Brand?

I am currently reading a book (no prizes for guessing which one) that has IMO a startling amount of product placement (versus earlier books in the series and versus other books in the subgenre [whether you place it in Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy). For example:

Inside there were eighteen small bottles of Ocean Spray CranRaspberry in three rows of six.

And what about? (This one completely threw me!)

Her door was open and she sized up the detective from behind. He wasn't too tall, but he had a thick build she approved of. His sports coat was Men's Wearhouse, his shoes were Florsheim. Watch peeking out of his cuff was Seiko.

I will admit to only being approximately 25 pages into what is over a 500-page book but still...do I really need to know the brand of cranberry juice someone is drinking? Or the make of their watch? And I have to be honest, not living in North America (and not being 'in' to shopping in any way, shape or form) the majority of these brands just don't resonate with me.

I guess what I'm really asking is: is the branding necessary? And do you feel it adds to or detracts from the story? Or does it have no impact whatsoever? (I'm currently sitting on the fence at the moment until I read further.)

Caveat: I'm not really sure how I feel about this book...and this worries me! I used to drool (figuratively, not literally) at the the thought of getting my hands on the earlier books but this one....*shrug* I suppose you could say I'm ambivalent. I'm not desperate to pick it up. And I'm not really sure what that means...for this book or the next. Or for me....

OT: And don't forget the Broken Wing Challenge!


  1. The CranRas cracked me up! At least there is no rap mentioned this time around.
    But the terms like fidiot and outtie? Hello 500 year old men acting like 16 year olds?
    I used to drool also. My drool has dried up quite a bit.
    BTW LA is #2 on the bestselling HC fiction list for this week.

  2. But the terms like fidiot and outtie?I have yet to experience that joy :) I'll have to look over lunch for the word that stopped me dead in my tracks this morning. I was like...'WTF did you just say?'.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one whose drool production has decreased...I can't believe I just wrote that :)

    And LA is #2 on the bestselling HC fiction list? I'm guessing that will convince the publishers they made the right call...

  3. Ditto on not being in North America or into shopping, so I agree with your points. Also, excessive product placement will really date a book a few years down the track.

    But then, I'm not imagining that these books will be the classics of the future. (If they are, I'm seriously worried about that future!)

  4. Also, excessive product placement will really date a book a few years down the track.That's a REALLY good point Kerry.

  5. I can understand it when it's a big brand like Louis Vitton, Armani and stuff like that - it just spells out "rich" (well not anymore, but anyway)... Those are like timeless brands. However, I don't really care and when you don't know the brand, it loses its significance. I do agree with Kerry about references like that dating a book.

  6. I think excessive brand naming takes away from a story. If I see more than five brand name mentions, I start getting twitchy. It pulls me out of the story every time.

    In Ward's case, I bet her word count would drop by 10,000 if she cut out all the product names.

  7. I don't care for the use of brands in lieu of actual characterization or scene setting--and that's what it seems that most of those are, you know?

    Readers are supposed to infer something from the fact that character A is into this or that brand, but unless we are talking truly classic/timeless, the effect is lost in just a few years (or for people from a different cultural background)

  8. *nods*

    I've just come across a reference to 'George Carlin's vocabulary'. I'm off to Google the name, because I'm not sure who he is and therefore what sor to vocabulary he would use.

  9. I agree. Too much branding makes the book harder to read and does date the book.

    Orannina: I made us a little icon for our challenge. *g*

  10. Ohhh, thank you for the icon! I love it! May I borrow it please? I could put it on the RHS of the blog as a link :)