Recently, Amazon advertised a Kindle with a reduced price. All you have to trade for the smaller price tag is embedded advertisements. When I bought my new laptop from Best Buy in February, I had to pay an additional $65.00 for the staff at Best Buy to remove the pop-up ads that had been embedded into the hard drive. To me, the extra sixty-five bucks was worth avoiding the annoyance of having advertisements pop up at random intervals, trying to entice me to purchase items I neither wanted nor needed. If I’d had to endure the constant barrage of ads while trying to write, I may have thrown the damn computer out the window.
Last night, while watching my DVR’d episode of The Vampire Diaries, I was disappointed when Jeremy, hiding out in a basement with Bonnie, produces a laptop and a little black box. “What’s that?” she asks. “Oh,” Jeremy says, flashing the box with the AT&T logo, “this is MIFI.” Okay, so that might not have been the dialog verbatim, but you get the picture. And this isn’t the only show utilizing this new in-your-face sponsorship.
Honestly, I find this type of aggressive advertising annoying. If I’m using a laptop peppered with pop-up ads, it detracts from my work. If I’m watching a show with shameless plugs, it detracts from the story and my viewing experience. What’s next? Should we expect our novels to be prefaced with ads for the new Ford Focus? Don’t get me wrong, there’s a right and a wrong way to advertise. Ads in the back pages of a novel promoting other writers in the imprints line…totally appropriate. A brief pause during a scene in my favorite show where the character has a spokes model moment and shows off the new sprint tablet? (I’m talking to YOU Fringe.) Totally not okay.
What do you guys think? Has product placement and advertising gotten out of hand? How would you feel if the first few pages of your favorite book showcased full-color ads for Apple or Subaru?