OTW Fannews: Product Placement

  • Vulture released a series of articles on fanfiction, including an attempt to unravel “My Immortal“, and a look at some published authors discussing fanfiction activities. “[T]he undeniable signature of a writer’s fic orientation isn’t eroticism but confession, the frank and extended discussion of emotions. If porn offers men the vision of women whose carnality is neither elusive nor mysterious, fic offers its mostly women readers men whose inner lives are wide-open books — not so easy to find in popular culture. Whether these imaginary Spocks or Justin Biebers are straight or gay, theirs is a love that not only dares to speak its name but will happily go on talking about itself for thousands of words at a time.”
  • While fanfic has gone on for not just thousands of words but thousands of years, there are constant claims about what was its first example. A recent one was made by the president of the local chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America. “Thompson has written extensively about Jane Austen fandom, and she has an article coming out in the United Kingdom: “Crafting Jane: Handmade homages and their makers.” Even Jane Austen fandom was ahead of its time. The ultimate contemporary fan tribute is to write your own stories, set in the world of your favorite author-filmmaker. ‘I’ll be talking about the first translation of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ into French from 1817…The writer didn’t like the end of the book, so she rewrote it. It represents the first fan fiction.'”
  • ABC Newcastle, Australia sought to find the origins of fandom. “When people can be so unwavering and loyal to their fanaticisms, what are the ethical boundaries around organisations not exploiting their product’s fans? Melanie James believes fans can be viewed in different ways. ‘Fandom is cultivated by organisations. Football clubs want their fans; movie franchises want their fans…A marketer would look at a fan quite differently [to someone else]. [Marketers could think], ‘There is a potential person for me to make a lot of money out of, because they’re going to buy the t-shirt, the video, the game, the costume and go to the movies.’ They’re a commodity.'”
  • Wattpad certainly seems to think so. A story in It Business, Canada reported on a marketing to millennials talk that revealed that product placement is something the company is attempting to use with its writers. For example they have fit “existing stories to brands, with ads for Taylor Swift’s new album performing well inside pieces of fan fiction featuring Taylor Swift. Brands have also written their own stories for Wattpad readers, with writers of the new USA Network TV series Dig writing stories for the platform. Brands have also created a whole campaign around a Wattpad story. The company has a very large following in the Philippines, and Unilever wanted to reach it to promote its Eskinol pimple cream. They commissioned a Wattpad writer to write a story about someone getting a pimple just before a date.” Their strategy is to obscure the marketing aspect as much as possible. “When we failed, it obviously looked and felt like an ad.”

How have you seen fanworks being co-opted for marketing use? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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