I have to admit I get annoyed with blatant product placement in movies. I don’t mind something subtle, and I love it when off brands are used. But blatant advertising pulls me out of the movie.
So this past week I was working on the first draft of the sequel to my story and had a character pick up a book to read. We all know the advice that if you are going to have your character sit, make them sit on something. A hardback chair, a sofa, an orange crate. I figured I’d better not have this character just read a book, so I had her pick up a Susan Schreyer mystery. It was the first thing I thought of as I’d just been talking to Susan.
I’ve read favorite authors who have their characters interact with specific books, sing along with specific music, admire specific paintings. I didn’t think anything about it.
Until I suddenly realized, I just committed the sin of product placement. Had to laugh. I then asked Susan if she minded, which of course she didn’t.
Have I succumbed to the crass world of advertising? Man, I hope not. I’d rather think of this as a writer giving her story world verisimilitude. However, I’d love to hear what other writers and readers think of this level of detail in a story. Should it be there to bring a world to life, or is it product pushing? I’m thinking it will be like all things in life. Balance. Just the right amount of product, placed in just the right hands at just the right moment so that it is seamless and almost transparent.
Here’s a product placement photo, taken in Wallace, Idaho. And why would it be considered advertising? Because it is where the Wallace Mining Museum and the Oasis Bordello Museum are located, which figure in my stories. A historic mining town with the interstate soaring in a world of its own high above the history and hidden stories.