Monday, September 19, 2011

Product endorsements in books? Tell me it isn't so!!! 😱

So, I thought I would chill out on the weekend and read a few pages in a best-selling novel when suddenly, out of nowhere, I was bombarded by the world of product endorsement.

Okay, so maybe I am wrong. But check this out..

It began with one mention of IKEA. A young woman, fresh out of college went to IKEA and bought the ‘basics’ that she needed for her bedroom. (Unlike most people right out of college, who manage to drag something out of the dumpster, steal furniture from their parents or search Craigslist) The 'basics' of course, include everything from bedding to the curtains, a mirrored armoire, a chest of drawers, a ‘comfortable’ chair, two night tablesand yes, there is more but I am limited on time tonight and can’t possibly list it all. Needless to say that this girl must have got one hell of a deal at IKEA cause I’ve lived in Vancouver over a year and still don’t have most of this shit. I guess I should visit an IKEA because according to this book, the main character was ‘amazed’ by how little everything cost her. Ahem.

The book then goes on to mention how the good people at IKEA helped this young woman load a van with all the crap she bought (unlike most stores where they hide when seeing a customer in need)

Apparently, her father’s cheque (I believe it was for $1000) went a ‘long way’ in purchasing everything she needed. She loved all her new IKEA stuff. Her roommate loved all her new IKEA stuff. The world was a wonderful place.

And from there, I could understand if the story went on and moved past the whole IKEA thing. But, it hadn’t.

After discussing the wonderful evening this girl spent with her new roommates, it went on to comment on how her new room was peaceful and pretty now, ‘thanks to IKEA.’ It then goes on to state that she was thrilled with her purchases and that her friend’s suggestion to shop there was a great idea!

Are you IKEAed out yet? Well, you will be, cause before the chapter is finished, it’s mentioned again. She comments on having a conversation with her sister earlier that day ‘while shopping at IKEA’.

I might be jumping to the conclusion but this chapter really seemed to scream out ‘product endorsement’ from beginning to end. I was stunned. Maybe a little naive, but I never considered that authors would actually attempt to market something in their book. I know that most writers will make a mention of products to set the scene or in attempts of creating an image of a character. For example, you get a completely different image when I talk about a young lady wearing ruby red lipstick as opposed to Blistex or Lip Smacker. However, if I make a point of mentioning that tube of Blistex repeatedly throughout the chapter, the readers would probably question why that was so relevant to the story. Going back to the IKEA chapter, I will say that it doesn’t appear to be justified that the popular chain be mentioned so many times in one chapter.

Okay, so here is a little example of what I mean. 

Someone once told me that the reason why soap operas became the central part of afternoon television, was because soap companies wanted a form of entertainment to cushion their commercials, which were directed at housewives (if you are really young, you might want to Google it. 'Housewives' don't really exist anymore). Are best-selling authors just another cog in the marketing machine? Will authors someday be writing books centering around the companies that want association with the author and target age group expected to read the book? Let's hope not.

Canadian author Mima is known for her complicated and diverse characters, a dark style and for never shying away from controversial topics. To request an interview or if you are interested in doing a book review, please send requests here 

Mima is the author of Fire and the prequel, A Spark before the Fire, as well as The Rock Star of Vampires  Her Name is Mariah and Different Shades of the Same Color. Join Mima on Facebook, TwitterG+ and Goodreads also, check out her Amazon Author Page

For some reading, check out her blogs – personal or writing

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