Tue 30

Do marketers dream of branded sheep?

Writing People often e-mail me to point out that some scary-ass marketing technique I dreamt up for Syrup or Jennifer Government has actually come true. No matter how shameless, ludicrous, or extreme I get, some novelty-tie-wearing marketer eventually gets the same idea. Notable examples so far include Dunlop-Tire paying people to take its name and Dunkin’ Donuts convincing people to tattoo its logo on their foreheads. The latter is really something; follow the link for a pic of grinning, tattooed college students. I want to call them corporate prostitutes, but not all of them were paid: some apparently got tattoos just for the sheer joy of turning their faces into billboards. Which raises the question: which is less moral, taking money from a corporation to rent your face, or letting them do it for free? It’s a toughie.

Now I’ve got an e-mail from Nathan who says my Why Copyright is Doomed essay is coming true, too. Just in case you don’t feel like digesting 1,800 words right now, the short version is that I think advertising is going to creep into novels. Not just in relatively subtle The Bulgari Connection ways, but big, bright, honking, dancing, in-your-face-just-the-way-you-don’t-like-it ways. Real advertising.

And here it is. Matthew Reilly, a fellow Aussie, has a new novel out next week, Hover Car Racer. And it’s to be published on the web alongside ads for United Pictures films and Canon products.

I’ve met Matt a few times. He’s a terrific guy, even though his books sell better than mine. If you like big blockbuster action novels, he’s your man, and if Ice Station in particular never makes it to the screen, it’s a crime. I don’t blame him for letting ads snuggle up to his fiction. I think it’s inevitable; eventually, all novels will be like this. But can’t help but cringe. I wish I could have stayed ahead of the marketers a little longer this time.