I know I wear several hats. This time I come to you not even as an author but a publisher.
First, the definition of product placement and a bit of background on the concept
A lot of us only got to know of Courvoisier cognac through Busta Rhymes’ ‘pass the Courvoisier’ song.
That is product placement. A situation where a brand pays for the mention of their brand in someone’s artistic product. It could be a song, a film, a book or whatever.
The reason is to promote the brand or company.
Well, apparently, Busta recorded and released the song without expecting any money from Courvoisier. It was just his artistic expression and reference. The promotional deal between them came later after the song got big.
The song got big not because he mentioned Courvoisier but because it was a good song. It makes us (people) catch feelings of excitement. We then wanted to drink it and thus obviously bought it.
That is the perfect way to do product placement, i.e. product place in an artistic product that makes people catch feelings.
If the artistic product indeed makes people catch feelings, mathematically it will spread to thousands and maybe millions of people (because it is being shared). That is the mathematics of feelings. People share them and in this case, they share them in the form of the artistic product.
The emotions an artistic product evokes could be of joy or sadness, or anything in between. If the artistic product evokes them, it will be shared. Even sad movies are loved and consumed.
Another example of a song adding popularity to a brand is Tupac ‘2Pac’ Shakur’s ‘Hennessy’ song. The record was released posthumously to Pac. The music of the song arouses feelings (it is a damn good song) and we associate the brown bottle (Hennessy) to reflection on our difficult “difficult upbringing” as a contributor on Genius.com described it. Even if you one did not struggle growing up, the song makes them feel. That is the power of music.
Millions of Entourage fans like me associate Avión Tequila to the series. That was product placement. A paid one.
So, there is always mention of products and brands in artistic products (songs, poems, books, etc), whether paid or not, intentional or not. It is part of setting a context. They relate time, mood, nuance, character and place.
Product placement in books? The obvious example on google is Bulgari paying author Fay Weldon to write a book that carries Bulgari in the title. The novel is called The Bulgari Connection.
It is difficult to measure the direct sales result of a deal like this but it sure left living memories in anyone who read the book. Also, the news of this sure added publicity to Bulgari massively.
Product placement does two things:
- It increases publicity and importance/reverence/relevance for a product or brand. For people to buy a product they have to know about it and be convinced of its importance. E.g., Tupac’s ‘Hennessy’ did these two things for Hennessy. All this is ROI.
- It increases sales like Busta’s ‘pass the Courvoisier’s did for Courvoisier by 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2002.
Product placement in books and particularly diary chronicle books
This article deals with a particular set of artistic products, i.e. books but a particular a new genre that has hit the country (and the world) massively.
It is diary chronicle books.
These books hit emotions and numbers.
They are famous and read by thousands to millions of people in South Africa, across the continent (Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Lesotho, and many others )and parts of Europe and the USA.
We dubbed them diary chronicles. Most of the authors started to write these fictional diary stories on Facebook for fun and not in the hope that they will one day become published books.
Other books that to us fall under this category are (N.B. they are not published by us): Hlomu The wife by Dudu Busani-Dube, 283: The Bad Sex Bet by Mofenyi Malepe, The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa and others
The books tell chronicled tales of usually of a young adult’s bizarre life. They are fast-paced, written in a diary-like sense, narrate intense sex scenes, and contain shocking twists and turns. It is commonly the main characters chronicling their misdoings and relationships in the era of social media, blessers, blessees, slay queens/kings, players, and the drinking of expensive champagne and whiskey.
Many of these books are now a cultural phenomenon and are bestsellers.
Ask your female and male friends and relatives of any age about them, they know them. Or search the titles on Google and social media to see their wide reach.
- For instance, the author of Diary of a Side Chick Makhwapheni Lesego Maake’s blog – www.lesegomaake.co.za – where he published this story and others has been viewed over 100 million times since 2014. His other popular stories include Chronicles of a Play ‘Rhulani Chauke’ and My Rich Nigerian Boo.
- His newest Facebook page Diary of a Side Chick Makhwapheni has over 80 thousand followers. Previous pages kept getting deleted by Facebook for infringing policies.
- Mike Maphoto’s Diary of a Zulu Girl Facebook page boasts 130 thousand plus followers. It has been viewed over 30 million times.
- I am noting Lesego and Mike because they are like the founding fathers of these genres. They gave inspiration to many others to write diary chronicle stories.
- On average, our diary chronicle authors have 44 thousand Facebook followers.
- In general, good diary chronicle stories have over 20 thousand followers on Facebook.
Other diary chronicle stories on Facebook for example
- Beauty Beyond The Orange Uniform has over 110 thousand followers
- Diary of iCherrie Yo’Mjaivo has over 60 thousand followers
- Two Wrongs in Maun has over 300 thousand followers
Our authors have done product placement in varying contexts. In some it was paid product placement, and in others it was favours to associates.
As such, we have experienced and observed insights and data on the power of product placement in diary chronicle books.
They have done product placements for alcohol brands, family planning clinics, beauty salons, furniture, the financial sector, etc.
Those businesses and brands are now forever placed in the memory of millions of readers of these stories as stories carry emotion and emotion is the strongest carrier of information.
So why advertise through product placing in diary chronicle stories
1. They have the maths
As shown above.
2. They are evergreen sellers
Diary chronicles are novels and novels are evergreen. I.e. they are ever relatable and entertaining because they tell stories and not current affairs (current affairs expire).
More importantly, good diary chronicles attract numbers, i.e. thousands to millions of readers.
All the diary chronicle books I’ve mentioned here have reached and surpassed a critical mass. This ensures that someone is always talking about them and to someone.
Therefore they will keep getting bought from bookstores.
When they are free, they will keep getting read and thus continue spreading.
N.B. Because most diary chronicle stories started as free content, they become popular. They gain followers that way. It makes it easier when they are converted into books (but with professional high-grade editing) to capture sales quickly. Readers of the past free content flock to bookstores when these books come out. We’ve seen it happen.
As marketing, even when the story is converted into a book, it is necessary to publish at least three chapters (excerpts) on Facebook or a blog for free.
Imagine your brands written in one of them. They will get into the memory of thousands of readers to come.
How to do product placement
- Of course, number one is to get the author and publisher to write the product into the story.
- Publish the story in the book.
- Another important strategy is to publish the story (the excerpt) for free where the brand is placed for free through the author’s platform (on Facebook and the blog). This strategy makes sure the story reaches thousands of readers.
- I’ve seen others who post their stories as Twitter threads. They are great. One person who does this brilliantly is @cvujama (I am not sure if he does paid product placements but the stories and alcohol brand mentions add colour and nuance to his stories).