February 22, 2002

Dear Sir or Madam:

Received your inquiry re: January 10th invoice, asking who in the marketing department placed the order.

While I feel that answering “someone named Bob” might expedite the payment, I must be frank: no one ordered anything. I am pleased to see, however, that an invoice charging you ten dollars for product placement in a novel did not strike you as unthinkable.

Nor should it. Just last year Fay Weldon’s The Bulgari Connection came out with HarperCollins and Grove press. Commissioned by the jewellery company for an undisclosed sum, the established Weldon was required to mention the brand twelve times. Unlike magazines with their almost infinite capacity for advertisements, the book has been ad-resistant for years. Why not take a page (so to speak) from equally ad-resistant movies?

And your company has a special place in history on this, doesn’t it? Although the script of E.T. called for M&M’s, M&M turned down the offer, and Reese’s Pieces subsequent involvement shot sales through the roof. It wasn’t the first product placement in a movie, but it certainly popularized the strategy.

But that’s ancient history. What does the year 2036 hold for Hershey’s? Let’s look at page 126 of my futuristic novel, Everyone In Silico:

Andre glowered at him. Nicky looked from one to the other, remembered their secrecy in the train yard. “You guys, man,” she sneered, “spy versus spy.” She went into the kitchen, her stomach having ordered her into forage mode. She knew there was nothing in the fridge, so she looked through the cupboard and found a package of Reese’s Oreos. She brought them back to the living room. Andre declined, but Simon dipped his dirty hand in, licking his lips.

Mmm… aren’t you licking your lips now, Sir or Madam? Not only will there be a tantalizing merger between your company and Nabisco, but you’ve come out on top – it isn’t Oreo’s Pieces, after all.

But it might be in the American edition, if you fail to remit your cheque.

Hoping you won’t M&M it,

Jim Munroe.

Letters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10