Using Teen Chick Lit Novels to Teach Marketing

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper will outline how the author uses the sub-genre of teen fiction referred to as teen chick lit to teach students the marketing concept known as product placement. The paper provides the rationale for using fictional teen focused novels as a vehicle for teaching product placement as well as an overview of the teen chick lit genre. A discussion of the value of using teen fiction in class, student project, its success and issues raised are also discussed.

Background

On June 27, 2006 the David Frankel film, The Devil Wears Prada, based on the 2003 hit chick lit novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger, debuted in theatres across America. The Devil Wears Prada, written in 2001, tells the story of the relationship between the editor of a fictitious fashion magazine, Runway, and her aspiring young assistant. Based, some say, on Anna Wintour, the real life editor of American Vogue magazine (there are other international versions), the novel was on the New York Times bestseller list for six months and was eventually translated into 27 languages.

It was this film, The Devil Wears Prada, and the genre of fictional novel from which it came, chick lit (literature), that captured my imagination and prompted me to begin researching if other books within the chick lit genre also contained as many product placements (brand insertions) as those found in the film as well as throughout the book on which it was based. It was this research that eventually led me to begin thinking of using these fictional chick lit novels as a way of reinforcing the concept of product placements in my marketing classes. It is important to point out that in many ways chick lit books are a reflection of teen society, especially the impressionable 12-17 year old female demographic.

Introduction to Chick Lit

According to (http://www.chicklitbooks.com/whatis.php) the chick lit genre can be defined as "a genre of books that are mainly written for women. The books range from having main characters in their early 20's to their late 60's. There is usually a personal, light, and humorous tone to the books. Sometimes they are written in first-person narrative; other time they are written from multiple viewpoints. The plots usually consist of women experiencing usual life issues, such as love, marriage, dating, relationships, friendships, corporate environments, weight issues, addiction, and much more."

In 2000 a new form of women's fiction titled "city girl books" emerged from Harlequin publishers. It was these "city girl books" that were, in fact, the predecessors of today's chick-lit. Better known for their bright pink covers with pictures of shoes and cocktails than for their story lines, chick-lit would eventually grow to become its own sub-genre of women's fiction. Exceedingly popular with women in the 20-30 year old demographic, chick-lit plots focus on the everyday circumstances of women's life; friendships, work, female/male relationships, and shopping (including shoplifting), sometimes to the extreme.

Not unlike the British music invasion of the 1960's, chick-lit had its beginnings in Britain with the publication of Bridget Jones' Diary in the fall of 1996. This book written by Marian Keyes is today considered to be the godmother of the chic-lit genre. As is the case with other chick-lit novels, Bridget Jones' Diary held to the basic chick-lit formula, "woman's life disintegrates, woman's life changes radically after many mishaps, woman comes out stronger, happier person in the end" (Yardley, 7, 2006). In addition, standard topics also include "pop culture, high fashion, and urban settings" (Yardley, 8, 2006) as found in the Candace Bushnell book and HBO television series Sex and the City.

The growing popularity of the chick-lit novels is evident in the level of commercial success they have enjoyed. "In 2002, for instance, chick-lit books earned publishers more than $71 million" (Ferris & Young, 2, 2006). …