Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Travel Mug (Working Title)

There were a bunch of stories in the news this week about product placement and its role in advertising.

Evidently, Days of Our Lives has progressed from merely showing a sponsor's product on camera to working subtle-as-a-sledgehammer advertisements for Cheerios and Chex Mix (among others) into its scripts.

I think product placement can be mildly distracting-- it chips at the fourth wall but doesn't quite break it-- but I get the need for it. With people fast-forwarding through commercials and/or watching content on the internet, advertisers have to find new ways to reach consumers.

I'm kind of wondering if the next step in product placement is books. If we can credit Mark Burnett as the pioneer of prodcut placement on TV (and I think we must: remember that outhouse reward on Survivor that they dubbed the Casa de Charmin?), I think someday we will look back and point to Stieg Larsson as the Mark Burnett of literature.

What's the product that's being pushed? Coffee. The Swedes in Larsson's books drink an inordinate amount of coffee. They drink coffee with and between each meal. They drink coffee when they need to think. They drink coffee when they are tired of thinking. They drink coffee before they collapse into bed. If the plot brings two characters together, they invariably have some coffee. Cups and cups of the stuff (with an occasional espresso or latte thrown in for good measure). Coffee is practically a character in the books.

It's like Larsson made a bet that he could use the word coffee 5,000 times in each manuscript. Or, maybe, just maybe, he got paid by the "coffee."

Could "Stieg Larsson" be Swedish for Juan Valdez?

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