Marketing partnership between new teen novel and cosmetic company draws attention, book creates new interactive experience
A news story about a partnership with a book publisher and a cosmetics company set off a blizzard of discussion last week around the industry about what the proper role between product placement deals in publishing and the readership it intends to target should be.
In an article published in The New York Times on June 12, reporter Motoko Rich set off the debate about a new promotional relationship between Running Press, an imprint of Perseus Book Group, and Cover Girl, a division of Proctor and Gamble. The deal will see Cover Girl products being mentioned in the pages of the upcoming young adult novel, “Cathy’s Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233.” The novel was created by authors Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, who are award-winning game designers.
Cathy Vickers, the 17-year old protagonist of the novel, is described as wearing a lip gloss called Liplicks, a product sold by Cover Girl Cosmetics. Other references to the company’s products are also seen throughout.
“The use of even the subtlest of sales pitches, particularly in a book aimed at adolescent audiences, could raise questions about the vulnerability of the readers,” Rich wrote in The New York Times piece.
Although neither the publisher nor the authors will receive any direct financial compensation for mentioning the company or products in the text, the book will be promoted on one of Cover Girl’s Web sites, Beinggirl.com, a site directed at adolescent females.
“What we are selling here to the customer or the reader is an experience that transcends the book itself,” David Steinberger, president and chief executive of Perseus said. “The relationships with Beinggirl.com and Cover Girl are enriching that experience.”
According to publisher, the initial print run of the book has already been increased from 30,000 to 100,000 copies, thanks to good initial response.