If you thought you could escape rampant product placements by reading a good book, fuhgetaboutit. The latest author to get paid for product placement in a novel is British chick-lit writer Carole Matthews. The author changed the heroine's car in her book "The Sweetest Taboo" to a Ford Fiesta instead of the Volkswagen Beetle she'd originally penned after she received Ford sponsorship.
Besides appearing in "The Sweetest Taboo," the Ford Fiesta stars in a selection of short stories on the Ford UK website. It's an ambitious, fun promotion that weaves the car in cleverly to appeal to the author and the car's 25-year-old demographic.
[Note to advertisers: I'm available to be sponsored to write a book in which the main character drives a Porsche, uses a Canon Digital Rebel with several lenses, and vacations at Canyon Ranch.]
Explaining the way she incoroporates the Fiesta into the story, Matthers says "I think there are some car habits that are peculiar to women – using cars as an extension of your handbag and also giving them cute names. The Fiesta I'm driving now is called Flossie." Flossie is featured in this month's story, "A quick wash and a brush up," on the Ford U.K. site.
The character in the story is washing Flossie when she spots a cute guy. She flirts with him and he helps her wash Flossie, but it turns out he has the hots for her best friend. On the site, under the title, there is the line "A short story commissioned exclusively for Ford Fiesta."
This is not the first time a novelist was paid for product placement,. Danny Hakim reports in the NY Times that novelist Fay Weldon was commissioned by Bulgari in 2001 to plug the Italian jeweler in her book, "The Bulgari Connection." And a series of surfing novels for girls, sponsored by Quicksilver, pushes their clothing line.