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Friday, April 19, 2013

"I'm A Pepper, You're A Pepper, Wouldn't You Like To Be A Pepper Too?"

I'm a Frito-Lay/Pepsico brat. From the time I was fourteen until 2003, my dad worked at Frito-Lay. He brought home cases of chips every Wednesday, the day the employees were allowed to buy off the truck, and when I was in college, Dad would ask me every Sunday if my roommates and I wanted anything special. 

We were among the first to try Funyuns and Wavy Lays.

Remember the Pepsi Challenge? For the record, I don't like carbonated beverages. It takes me about 90 minutes to drink a single can of Pepsi. But Coke isn't sweet enough; I once began a Cherry Coke at 8am and by 4pm still hadn't finished it.

What does this have to do with anything, you ask? I incorporate Frito-Lay/Pepsi-Co products into my stories. Of course, once in a while a character will tell me they like Sprite instead of Sierra Mist, or Seven-Up. That's fine. I'll compensate by having them drive a Chevy. Or hating seafood.

I also like to add my favorite music into my stories. Anyone remember 'We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off' (1986) or Eddie Murphy's 'Party All The Time'? Who remembers that Don Johnson and Patrick Swayze both had hit singles; Don with "Heartbeat' in 1987 and Patrick with 'She's Like The Wind' in 1988?

If I venture into a setting other than someplace where I've been, I'll invent a restaurant. But if I've actually been to the city/state/vacation place, you can be sure of recognizing either landmarks or restaurants.

I'm not one for fashion or label-dropping. The occasional clothing line will sneak in, such as Lee Jeans or Nike/Reebox tennis shoes, but mostly the cologne scents will be named. I loved Aviance Night Musk. White Shoulders. Soft Musk (Avon). Georgio. Red. Polo. Obsession For Men. Halston (men and women's).

It's safer to be generic and vague about what a character is wearing, drinking, watching, etc. But sometimes the label throws a definite picture into the mind when you're reading. Lisa Logan does an excellent job of this in Grand Seduction. 

Some of my Arbor University mention too many trademarked items, so I've had to be more generic.  But as the next book (still writing it!) takes us into the 90's, some of the brands are less important.  Except the music.  I will always include some of my favorite songs from the past.

What about you?  Authors:  Do you incorporate certain brands into your books?  Readers:  Do brand names enhance your mental picture of the scene or pull you out of it?


Melissa Keir said...

It is why I talk about a particular town. Some of the places are so important to the story, however, I've had publishers tell me that I can't use trademarks, so no Rolling Rock beer or Carhart jackets! Even worse, they won't let me use music lines. :( Sad but I understand... everyone is very worried about the CYA.

I love the 80's! It is my favorite time of my life! Thanks to sharing those times again!

Tina Donahue said...

I always use products (Coke, BMW, etc)in my novels. Just makes the story seem more real.

As for soda - I'm a Dr. Pepper gal. God, even the diet version is decadently delish.

Paris said...

I try to be very careful about brand names and trademarks but as long as you don't diss the product and recognize it as a trademarked item, I think you're probably safe. The entertainment field, however, is a whole other ball game.

Cara Marsi said...

Interesting blog. I will sometimes use brand names, like the make of a car, but I mostly stay away from doing that. In my latest RS my heroine uses a tablet but I didn't give it a name. I would like to have said it was an iPAD but I think Apple is very aggressive about their trademarks. I don't drink soda. Don't like it. When I was a kid I drank sodas occasionally and I preferred Pepsi over Coke.

jean hart stewart said...

I almost never use a brand name. Doesn't seem to fit my stories,, somehow. Guess because I've never written one in the current year, Now why is that, come to think of it?

Molly Daniels said...

@Melissa: Why can't you use Carhart to describe a jacket/coveralls? And you're welcome:)

@Tina: My spouse LOVES Diet Dr. P:)

@Paris: I never diss a product, other than have a character express their dislike, but no great details.

@Cara: I'm an iced tea gal, esp Sweet Tea. The only time I drink soda is when Rum is involved:)

@Jean: LOL....your druids don't eat/drink specific brands? Just teasing:)

Marianne Stephens said...

So annoying to worry about name brands in books...and if anyone cares (brand name owners). I try to be more generic in labeling things. When I've used brand names, I've checked trademarks and acknowledgements, but I still worry about over-zealous owners creating a problem.
BYT...I'd take Coke over Pepsi, but rarely drink carbonated drinks.

Jim Hartley said...

I put brand names in occasionally. I've read somewhere that makes and models of cars are OK to use, and several stories have characters driving a Mazda Miata (guess what is sitting in my driveway?). I might have someone drinking a Pepsi, but never a Coke. And I did have one character who was asked if he'd like a beer. "Only if you have something good," he replied, and ended up with a Dos Equis.

Not sure why some companies get upset about this, many of them pay to get their brands used in movies or TV shows. Why do they complain about getting it for free in books?

I would never put in a brand I truly disliked since I'm sure the derogatory tone would show through (like Bud bleeeah Lite).

Anonymous said...
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Molly Daniels said...

@Marianne and Jim: I'm with Jim on this one. Why would companies complain about free advertising in books? When I did research for an upcoming book, I told the manager of a restaurant I was showcasing some of his menu items in a romance book, and he was THRILLED:)

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