Product Placement III

OK, we’ve discussed product placement in TV shows, TV news, newspapers, and (awhile ago) movies. What are we missing?

Would you believe books?

According to Slate, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America commissioned an entire novel, The Spivak Conspiracy, with a rather arresting plot line: Croatian Muslims attack the U.S… through poisoned drugs sold to Americans via Canadian pharmacies (see “Truth is Stranger Than Phiction.”)

The audacity of the move is breathtaking. First PhRMA budgets $300k for the book on the quiet. They got nabbed, so we don’t know what the plan from there might have been, but we can guess: after they arranged a nice print run, it would be time to trot out the surrogates on cable news to gravely intone that “the novel has a clever premise, a danger that’s all too real.” It wouldn’t be necessary for people to actually buy the book (or even read it) so long as they could keep repeating “Canada = tainted drugs” as many times as possible. (In this respect, the terror hook is also clever.)

If by some freak event the book actually was popular, the PhRMA’s no-doubt wet dream scenario then comes into play: a movie. (Tom Cruise battles Goran Visnjic in devious plot to import tainted Ritalin to harm America’s children! Featuring Jim Carrey as the wacky Canadian pharamacist who learns never to trust foreigners.)

Except the writers had another idea:

In the end, Spivak and Chrystyn turned down the money, rewrote the book, and retitled it The Karasik Conspiracy. The thriller is due out next month. We’ve read part of an early draft, and we can’t recommend it as great literature. But the book has an instructive new bad guy: A large pharmaceutical company, so far unnamed, has poisoned Canadian-sold drugsā€”and then tried to make it look like a bunch of terrorists were behind the plot.

Can’t say I’d read that one, either, but good for them.

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