It is this very element of realism that helped create some controversy several weeks ago. An early version of Stewart and Weisman’s book found its way into the hands of a Proctor & Gamble (P&G) executive, and P&G approached the duo about what Joyce calls a “co-marketing agreement.” The authors
replaced a number of products mentioned in the book with P&G products in exchange for marketing opportunities including Cathy’s presence on two prominent P&G Web businesses: BeingGirl.com and CoverGirl.com. A group called Commercial Alert immediately cried foul, calling on 305
editors nationwide to refuse to review the book, “because it really is an advertisement.”
But Steinberger says the bad press hasn’t tempered the industry’s enthusiasm for the book, pointing to an “initial distribution well in excess of 100,000 copies.”
He admits Perseus knew the risk it ran with the marketing deals. “We expected to get some controversy from this … and we’re not overly concerned.”
He adds that Perseus has fielded offers from publishers in well over 10 countries and says, “We received e-mails from some of these publishers saying things like, ‘Don’t show this to anyone else until you’ve received our offer.’ So that really confirmed our tremendous enthusiasm here, in-house, about this book, that we had something really special. And this was one of the steps that led to our taking up this initial distribution number pretty significantly.”
Aside from the spotlight shone on the book as a result of the controversy, its interactivity has allowed Joyce and his marketing team to be creative and, in some cases, revolutionary with its marketing campaign. “Some of [the promotion] we want to do, like the book, blurs the boundary between marketing and narrative,” Joyce says. “And I think … that’s the most interesting way to put this book out—not with a lot of ads, which we’ll do after the book launches.