Devil's Advocate

I have this idea that I'm not sure I agree with, but I'm going to talk about it anyway, because that's just how I roll, y'all.


People are getting knickers twisted because of the current slew of YA books that mention brand names. You know, the seven squillion Gossip Girl* clones out there. Where all the kiddies are wearing Burberry and Manolos and whatever else is fashionable right now. And now companies are paying publishers for in-book product placement. So poor Katie H Protagonist is now slapping on Maybelline WetShine Diamonds in Raunchy Red.
And the knicker twisted ones (whose side I am almost completely on, btw) are saying: "how TERRIBLE that companies are using BOOKS to peddle their wares! BOOKS the LAST TRUE BASTION OF CULTURE etc etc.
So my devil's advocate position is this:
Companies are going to advertise their products to teenagers no matter what we do, or say. Nothing will stop that. So wouldn't you rather a Young Person was getting a healthy dose of Reading along with their advertising? Instead of just on a TV commercial or billboard somewhere?
I suppose it depends on what the choice is. If the choice is: Books With Product Placement or Books Without Product Placement, I choose the latter. But if the choice is Advertising With Character Development And Narrative or Advertising On Irritating TV Commercials, I'll take my ads in books.
Does that make sense?
I also wouldn't want it to go too far the other way. In my latest book, I mention Two Minute Noodles, Mars Bars, MySpace, Google and Care Bears. The story wouldn't have felt as real if I'd not been able to use those things. Nothing pulls a reader out of a narrative like the mention of Three Minute Rice, Jupiter Bars, MyArea, Croogle and Solicitude Bears. Of course Google and the Care Bears didn't pay me anything to mention their products. So I suppose that's different.

But still.

You see what I'm saying?

I still haven't convinced myself. But I'm getting there.
*Speaking of Gossip Girl, have you seen the racy new promos? SOLID GOLD.