Your Call: Is it Marketing or Product Placement?


As the more dedicated fans of ABC’s Castle know, the books that lead character Richard Castle writes during the series are actually available on the marketplace. The latest of the three is the same book as shown in the series premiere: it’s called “Heat Rises,” and has a mysterious nod during the show’s first third.

Sitting as close to each other as the unresolved sexual tension will allow, Castle and Beckett share some terse, awkward pleasantries. Castle even checks his watch. Beckett lightly compliments him on his book, in particular the touching dedication (don’t look at me for spoilers, go buy the book if you’re so antsy!). She then says, “That ending must have been hard to write.”

Well. Those of us used to those questions being set up for reveal during the rest of the hour surely thought that, by minute 59, we’d get a shot of that dedication, or an explanation of the ending. It was only later, when I reminded myself that these books exist in the real world, that I realized it wasn’t a plot point at all. It was a clever, clever shenanigan. How clever? I now own “Heat Rises.” (That is, I own it a bit sooner than I would have owned it previously. The books, rumored to be written by one of the show’s writers, are pretty fun, passable fare, full of dialogue that might as well have come right from the show.)

How do you feel about this kind of nod? Is it OK to leave plot pieces dangling in the pursuit of a spot on the bestseller lists?

Of particular note: in the scene previous, Castle sits in front of a big, honkin’ HEAT RISES sign, dispassionately signing books for giggly girls who certainly come from some alien universe where being a Bieber is nothing compared to being an almost-middle-aged mystery writer. So here’s my question:

Is this just clever and harmless marketing? Or is it that insidious product placement? Does it detract from your viewing experience, or do you just not care?

  • SluppyB

    I think that they do it really well. Maybe I’m just gullible, but the second they mentioned the new novel I was checking it out on Amazon! It doesn’t bother me at all that they mention the novels on the show; it makes me feel like I’m joining in when I can get the books. They always talk about what an amazing writer Castle is, and when I first started watching the show, I was wishing that there was a real author whose books were SO amazing.

    I love the whole idea of the Castle books, and I was super excited to see there’ll be Derrick Storm ones, but a little disappointed to see they’ll be graphic novels. I prefer books over GNs but I will probably end up reading them anyway!

  • KimmyBlair

    I had read and enjoyed the previous two Nikki Heat stories, so I had already ordered the third book for my Kindle. Perhaps that is why I wasn’t to bothered by the plug. However when I saw the plug for the Derrick Storm graphic novel in this week’s episode I started to think it was a bit much. Perhaps they could of spread the two plugs out a few weeks. Hopefully there isn’t another Richard Castle product coming out next week that needs a plug!

  • megkhowell

    Honestly, I had completely forgotten about it by the end of the episode! I think it is interesting though that they do this, and that they did it again with the Derrick Storm books this week. It doesn’t make me more inclined to buy them, but I think it is a smart marketing move.

  • Yesenia Rose

    I have the first book but haven’t had the chance to read it but I think it’s a nice tie in to the show.

    As a fan of the show the books end up becoming a nice extra which also helps fill in the time between seasons. I still need to get my hands on the next two books. :)

  • B!

    The book references fits naturally into the plot line. They’re not intrusive and don’t feel contrived, unlike Allison Dubois touting all the features of her rental car on “Medium.” The reference to the dedication didn’t feel like a tease. That scene gave me enough info, and I never expected them to come back to it.