While the radio played the latest song by (name of famous pop star), she saw his (name of a luxury car) pull up in front of the house. Slipping into her (designer name) shoes that looked stunning with her (designer name) dress, she dabbed some (perfume name brand) behind her ears and popped open two cans of (name brand).
How do you feel about finding brand names in books? It irritates me no end. Each time I find a brand name in a story, I wonder if the author lacks the imagination or just the confidence to describe a great pair of shoes or a wonderful dress.
And, often enough, I’m lost. I’m not a major consumer of luxury products (I don’t even have a television) and name brands, the names of pop stars, usually mean nothing to me. Frankly, when I’m reading a book, I don’t care about what the heroes and heroines are buying. I’d rather know what they’re feeling, or thinking, or smelling, or seeing, or plotting. Besides, unless we’re working in advertising, a writer’s job is not to push consumer products. Our job is to tell a good tale in the best way possible, to create interesting characters, to use words wisely and phrases beautifully, to carry a reader away into another world altogether.
Here’s another reason for not using name brands or designer labels: when we’re reading, we have to picture the scene and the people we’re reading about. We have to use imagination. And when imagining, we’re exercising intelligence too. And employing imagination and intelligence to describe something, well…that can be a pretty exciting moment.
Want another reason? Okay. Two of my romances have been published with, The Wild Rose Press, and they’re dead against using name brands. I asked them why. Was it because of artistic reasons? No.
“Because it’s infringement on trademarks. You technically can’t use name brands without getting explicit permission from the trademark holder. Kleenex®, for instance, requires that the trademark symbol accompany it any time that word is used. We’re not going to do that in a manuscript. Also, companies hold exclusive rights to things we assume are just out there, like Cinderella, Zorro, and so on. They can file a suit against the author for any use of those trademarked and copyrighted names. And it is the author that is held liable, not the publisher, as the publisher does not own the copyright, the author does. So, best to be safe than sorry.”