Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bookvertising is here

+ Bookvertising and other ways marketers are looking to embed products.
f the tale of "Black Sapphire Pearl" blurs the line between fiction and advertising, it also exemplifies a $2 billion enterprise that is increasingly encroaching on traditional advertising, according to PQ Media, a Stamford, Conn., media research firm. With TiVo skipping commercials and pop-up blockers neutralizing online ads, traditional advertising is under assault everywhere. "Seamless brand integration" means that books, cartoons, video games and even television shows are now the hottest vehicles for advertisers to get their products in front of a target audience.

So Smith, who also writes for television and film, shaped his novel "to be really cool and different and literary." He says, "It doesn't read like an ad." More like this:

The Lexus loaner turned out to be a GS Hybrid. To say it was an upgrade from the battered Crown Vic I'd driven with the LAPD would be an understatement. For one, you don't need a key. You keep the remote control thing in your pocket and to start the car you just push a button on the dash. Like on a computer. In fact the car's more like a super-powered laptop on wheels than anything else.

Call it a fictomercial, a literatisement, branded entertainment. Lexus doesn't really care. As long as it makes people lust after its new top-of-the-line car.

The story is being published in three installments in the Lexus quarterly magazine, which is sent to owners, the last part coming this spring. It's also available, with interactive features, on the company's Web site.

Subtlety is one of the keys to placing a product name in media aimed at sophisticated consumers, says Richard Nelson, head of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. "If it's so heavily overloaded that it's basically a commercial, people aren't going to want to read it, and they won't buy it."

This has led to the increasing popularity of softer marketing ploys, such as event sponsorships (think: author readings hosted by a local dealership, or an art installation commissioned by a major automaker), "webisodes" and "advergaming."

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