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Product placement?

I have now read all these three books (in Finnish), and I have to say I really liked them. SL’s language and style of writing are nothing exceptional, but the stories are fascinating.

However, I’m kind of surprised with the amount of product placement in these books. It seriously bothers me that every computer, piece of furniture and mobile phone is described in great detail; and the brand and model always mentioned…

Posted by Emmi i Helsinki , 30 January 2009

I agree. I don’t mind brand names here and there, but EVERY time..?

And since when do hackers use Macs?

Posted by Ina in Berlin , 3 februari 2009

Amen. I’m not even halfway through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and he’s mentioned the Apple iBook NINE times already.

Very annoying.

Posted by Beth in Atlanta, , 15 februari 2009

I have to say that I think it is a journalist thing. Everyone know writers like Macs…

Posted by Micael (an exiled Swede) in the Swedish speaking part of Finland , 16 februari 2009

I wonder if author was getting any kickbacks from it, as there were mentions of Konzum, 7-11, Apple, etc. Not sure. Can that be?

Posted by N in Sydney , 17 april 2009

It is quite annoying and detracts from the story. My guess is since Mr. Larsson died prior to publication and can’t object, the publisher had carte blanche to make a few extra bucks by throwing these annoying product placements in.

Posted by Tom in Miami on his HP Pavilion 5000 with an AMD Turion processor,1 GIG of RAM, winner of several awards… , 6 juni 2009

I don’t mind the specifying of brands etc. Lots of writers have done that in “light” literature such as thrillers. It helps to situate the characters and fits our visual age. True it is a bit tedious to read the inventory of furniture bought in Ikea (in book 2) but as a reader one can skip those paragraphs. I read all 3 books in Dutch and thought the translation was maybe a bit flat. But I understand Larsson is a good scenarist but not necessarely a brilliant writer. Anyway, the books are great fun.

Posted by Lu in Brussel , 6 juni 2009

The amount of possible product placement in Stieg Larsson’s books is an outrage!

Posted by Winchester in Hamburg , 21 juni 2009

Great read, but the product placement really debases it as a literary experience. It feels cheap & disrupts the spell that is fundamental to the experience of reading such books. Horribly cynical – did Larsson approve it? If it was altered posthumously it’s a proper disgrace.

Posted by CM in Scotland , 19 juli 2009

Mac vs Win is absolutely Larsson choice. I think it’s the swedish version for the white hat / black hat split in western movies. Good guys use Mac; bad guys use Win.

Posted by Marco in Italy , 26 augusti 2009

Good guys (like me) use Linux. (or Solaris if I could afford a Sun box).

Posted by , 19 september 2009

It isn’t just the mentioning of brand names, which I agree to a certain point can be helpfully descriptive detail. What gets me is that these are obvious product endorsements. Very often Larson goes out of his way to tout the benefits of iPod over other MP3 players, or excruciatingly provides supposedly superior performances specs for a certain Mac laptop. That stuff is so destracting I sometimes want to just leave the book on the subway seat the way I would the free advertising circular once I am done paging through it for interesting content.

Posted by Chris in Copenhagen , 10 oktober 2009

@Ina Hackers use Macs too! I would know 😉

@Micael Macs are liked not only by Journalists but by technical people too. Go to some of the biggest tech companies and you will find many technicians prefer them. A Mac is a Unix system after all.

@Marco Although Win holds the majority of power / market, Win often feels threatened by Mac, but Win wants to protect their position of power and there is often aggressive reproach of Mac users. Win simultaneously blames Mac users of aggression or fanaticism and tries to break their solidarity.

Mac is more intuitive, looks better, functions better and is ultimately more pleasing. Sounds familiar to the themes of the book?

This could even be a carefully orchestrated parallel with the abuse of power themes in the book.

Posted by Django in Sydney , 22 mars 2010

What’s the name of the ringtone used by Mike ( SEw380i)

Posted by Freyr in Amsterdam , 26 Mars 2010

Come on guys, get over it. Steig probably just liked those things, used them and gave them to his characters. It’s nonsense to me to evaluate a writer negatively because he mentions the character’s car or the kind of pizza she likes.

Posted by Rob Heidel in Simi Valley , 11 April 2010

I agree,hes just trying to set the atmosphere of the book so everyone or at least the rough mayority can relate to some things that appear in the books, and therefore relate to the characters.

IÂŽm Mexican and have read the first two books in English. LOVED THEM!

Posted by Arturo in Mexico City , 15 April 2010

Are the product placements- mobile phones & palm handheld as well- mentioned in the Swedish originals? Larsson father & brother contolled the English translations & his estate generally. Was product placement to increase size of his estate?

Posted by Angry in Melbourne , 21 april 2010

i agree with rob heidel and arturo, i read the gossip girl books -note: i am a teenager- and i feel more related to the people in those books when they say that a person in the book has on a marc jacobs top and shoes, juicy couture mini skirt and necklace, michael kors handbag, and kate spade headband. they always go into detail of them and half the time i actually have one or more things in their outfit. it makes me feel closer and that i am actually in the story when i read that blair-someone in the book- loves my juicy couture bow necklace in sliver, same is said when lisbeth has the same ipod as me.

overall i love it!

Posted by juicy couture girl , 22 April 2010

I’ve enjoyed these books but the flagrant product placement really did take away from my enjoyment.

These aren’t casual references to set the scene, in once case there was a half-page technical description of a computer, along with points distinguishing it from its competitors. There was even a URL linking to one on-line product.

Am I reading too much into the fact that both protagonists used Apple while the villian in the first book used a Dell?

The books are fun but the product placement was really poor form.

Posted by MountainBoy in Canberra , 30 april 2010

This ‘product placement’ is no problem to me. It actually helps get you in the story and makes the characters seem even more real because they use products everyone uses.

Posted by LieveK in Turnhout , 24 May 2010

I felt the “product placement” was annoying, whether it was the author or his father who referenced them, but not as annoying as the constant reference to A4 paper, which is the European almost equivalent to US 8 1/2 by 11. Who cares?! He could have had the characters write on toilet paper, which would have detracted from the story just as much. I was reading to suspend disbelief…not go shopping! But, I love the books, and saw the movie. I wish Eva was getting the royalties, though.

Posted by Carol in Pinehurst, NC , 29 May 2010

I don’t understand the constant going to 7-11 which in Canada is only a convenience store. The diet of the people in the books is atrocious except for the odd apple thrown in (2 at the cottage in book two prior to her leaving on the motorcycle – seemed almost as if Stieg had been lectured on diet which may have been the case because he mentioned vitamins when Bomquist was going through Lisbeth’s cupboard, also in book 2)- and what is with Billy’s Pan Pizza? Does that exist? Coffee is consumed so often one wonders how anyone sleeps – and sandwiches also are too often eaten and mentioned, even if coffee and sandwiches are so regularly consumed in real life in Sweden. The Palm whatever it was is also mentioned a lot. I do think product placement became another income stream for someone. It is just too blatant and obvious in the books. I don’t think the father and brother should have a say in anything. It is horrifying to think that they do while Eva doesn’t. I think that some of the detail got in the way of full personalities ref. some of the characters – and in the second book there were so many characters that one could barely remember them as they weren’t fully formed, just there. Perhaps if they were each connected to yet more product placement on a consistent basis I would have remembered them.

Posted by Andy1 , 9 June 2010

Hi all, what’s all this crap about product placement? Stieg wrote about things he used and liked, basta. Nobody inserted the product names later to make money. Nor did I insert them in the translation. These are books, not movies, and Sweden, not Hollywood.

Andy1, there is such a thing as Billy’s Pan Pizza. They even have a website, Google them. They come in several flavors, are rectangular about 4″ x 8″, and according to Eva G. aren’t bad if you add some more stuff on top. I saw them at 7-11 in Stockholm in the frozen food area; sadly my hotel didn’t have a nuker in the room so I couldn’t try one. Once again, Stieg wrote about food he ate himself. One of the reasons for the heart attack.

Sweden does have the highest per capita consumption of coffee in the world. And they make it strong! Every important conversation in most Swedish thrillers takes place at the kitchen table over coffee, so much so that I have the words kitchen, kitchen table, coffee, cup of coffee, programmed into hot keys. As for sandwiches, they are invariably open-faced, called smörgĂ„s (like smörgĂ„sbord) in formal Swedish, a “macka” in current colloquial language (as opposed to a “mack,” which is a gas station), and it’s what everybody eats for lunch and supper. Unless you have a hot meal at midday. So please lighten up on this topic, Andy1, there is no product placement! It’s all part of the characterization. Any other questions, email me at bloozshooz at gmail dot com.

Posted by RegKeeland in Albuquerque NM , 13 June 2010

One of my abiding memories of the books is the list of furniture bought at IKEA. I remember saying to my husband, who had read the books before me, that this summed up Larrson’s style for me and made me love the books. The devil is in the detail in these books. It’s the mundane versus the dramatic. It’s what the books are about. Deception. What people see and what is real. I loved the shopping they do, and the sandwiches and the coffee and the brand names.

I have to say that I didn’t read the novels, but listened to the amazing Saul Reichlin reading them on audio books. Perhaps that’s why this sort of thing made sense to me. I’m not sure if the experience would have been different if I were reading the words on paper. I recommend the listening experience and in particular the narrator.

Mary

Posted by madmary in Birmingham UK , 15 June 2010

I like the brand refrence. At least when it comes to the tech elements of the story. We tech nerds would rather read about hot Firewire on Palm action than Blomkivist magical woman attracting penis.

Posted by The White Othello , 23 June 2010

well considering stieg was a journalist it kinda makes sense that he is really descriptive about crap and stuff cuze its all kinda important to the storry, u can hack on mack by the way hack on an android phone.

Posted by benwasheare , 12 July 2010

I read the references to brands, specific technologies and even the details of furniture and how much square footage to be very important commentaries on class and privilege. Who has access to technology and information. Salander declared as incompetent should not have access to these things and the info contained in them, but she finds ways to get them–either by saving up for original iBook in Dragon Tatoo or using her hacking skills. In Europe, where people live in very close proximity to one another, how many square feet you can afford says a lot about your status. For example, the description of Erika Berger’s house. I’m still puzzling over the Ikea furniture. On one hand, I think of Ikea as something for the masses, entry level, DIY, but then Salander gets the better quality bed and pays extra to have it assembled. Perhaps the point is that she flips these class signifiers on their head. How she and the other characters interact with the material world around them speaks volumes about their values and expectations.

Posted by MCM in Alna Maine , 13 July 2010

Just finished reading all three books. Agree that the references to products seemed to almost quote the technical specifications, but then Larsson also started so many chapters with a detailed descriptions of what time someone got up, what they had for breakfast, whether they showered and the colour of the trousers, shirt and jacket they dressed in. Only then would he get back to the story.

Then there was the description of Australia that seemed to have been taken straight off the world book encyclopaedia!

It seems to go well beyond being shrugged off as just sloppy editing and reflect an obsessive attention to repetitive detail. It seemed an almost unconscious nod to some of Lisbeth’s characteristics, which are often speculated to be on the autism spectrum, but never actually diagnosed as such. I have read quite a bit about Larsson being reflected in Blomkvist (with some wish fulfilment thrown in?), but perhaps there’s more of him in Lisbeth as well?

In that way, what seems to be blatant and over the top product placement is really just on a par with Larsson’s treatment of almost everything that can be detailed (including every reference to coffee, sandwiches, clothes choices et al) and the labyrinthine plotting.

Interesting books, both compelling and frustrating in equal measures.

Posted by LNT in Fremantle , 20 July 2010

In the second book, when Salander is having a showdown with her evil father she informs them that all of their conversation has been broadcast live on internet radio thanks to her Palm PDA. Her father asks to see it, and he asks to see it. She throws it to him, and after looking at it, he says “Bullshit, this is an ordinary Palm.

Keep in mind that this dialogue is during a life and death battle between Salander and her father, so it’s all quite funny when you think about it, and in a good way, how Larsson took this scene and made what I think is a satirical jab about how technology pervades our lives even when a gun barrel is in front of us.

>

says “Bullshit, this

Posted by Mark Mercer in Ottawa, Ontario , 5 August 2010

c.f. Bret Easton Ellis

Posted by Bill in Plano, Texas, United States , 16 August 2010

What I don’t understand is why when Lisbeths 13″ Apple notebook dies she buys a 17″ notebook that is in the desktop replacement class? Even if she liked Apple products she was carrying around that 13″ because it fit in here bag and it was light weight. Also she didn’t game, she didn’t go image editing or haevy graphical tasks so that computer she want to buy is ill suied to her life. She’d want an even lighter machine with tools she could really use like GPS, 3G, etc.

Posted by Monkey in Nantucket , 23 augusti 2010

I bet the distillers of Tullamore Dew paid SL to put in a section where Lizzie gets drunk on their product just to make people curious about Irish Whiskey.

Posted by , 21 February 2011

I’d think it’s just journalism if it weren’t for one particular software that he mentioned in the first book, software that he went on praising randomly for a whole paragraph and then provided the link for downloading it in a bracket. That managed to severely annoy me.

Posted by Magdalene Felix in Bucharest, Romania , 23 oktober 2011

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