Our sister site, Jezebel, has posted something awesome about the product placement that’s infiltrated the teen lit genre. One particularly sad example features a character called “Mackenzie Blue” whose tastes seem to be for sale before the books have even been written.
The author of the books, Tina Wells, is not even a writer by trade; she is, according to the NY Times, “chief executive of Buzz Marketing Group, which advises consumer product companies on how to sell to teenagers and preteenagers.” But this is nothing new: Clique series author Lisi Harrison used to be a Senior Director of Development at MTV and is the brains behind such classics as “Room Raiders.” (Also, the middle schoolers in the Clique series are apparently grossed out by menstruation, but that’s a whole other post. We miss you, Margaret, and your menses loving ways!).
Ms. Wells claims that brand sponsorship will not interfere with Mackenzie Blue’s content. “Mackenzie loves Converse…Does Converse want to work with us? I have no clue. But that doesn’t negate the fact that Mackenzie loves Converse,” Wells told the Times. When reporter Motoko Rich asked her if she would refuse a lucrative contract from Nike even though Mackenzie is a “Converse girl,” Wells said, “Maybe another character could become a Nike girl.” Don’t you see, brands won’t be dictating her content at all!
Even worse is Mackenzie Blue publisher Susan Katz. “If you look at Web sites, general media or television, corporate sponsorship or some sort of advertising is totally embedded in the world that tweens live in,” Ms. Katz said. “It gives us another opportunity for authenticity.” [Cue gagging sounds here. -Ed.]
Please add our voice to the chorus of gagging. Sure, Nancy Drew drove a Mustang, but if we suspected Ford was sponsoring her youthful hijinks… it just wouldn’t have been the same.