Blog Post Discusses Product Mentions in Comics

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By: E&P Staff

Actual brands and companies are occasionally mentioned in comics, but that doesn’t mean these strips have paid product placement like some movies and TV shows do.

That was the topic of a blog post by M. Monica Bartoscek, senior editor/operations at the Albany, N.Y., Times Union.

Bartoscek reported that a reader sent the newspaper clippings of early-February comics that mentioned brands or companies. The strips and the mentions included “Pickles” (iPod), “The Pajama Diaries” (Barbie), “Grand Avenue” (Calgon), “Close to Home” (Target), “Mother Goose & Grimm” (Mr. Peanut), “Pearls Before Swine” (Hallmark), and “Get Fuzzy” (Band-Aids, Excedrin, and Boston Red Sox caps).

Washington Post Writers Group Comics Editor Amy Lago told the Times Union that she knows of no cartoonists who have contracts for product placement. The brand/company mentions are due to “consumerism,” she said. “Cartoonists are consumers, too.”

Lago added that cartoonists have always used product names because these names are recognizable and can take up less space (“Kleenex” instead of “facial tissue,” by way of example).

Bartoscek also quoted United Media Executive Director/Public Relations Mary Anne Grimes as saying: “There is no paid product placement in United Media comics. Our cartoonists do use specific references to keep their comics relevant to today’s reader. For instance, a person would say ‘I need a Band-Aid’ in conversation as opposed to ‘I need an adhesive bandage’ because that is the way a regular person would speak.”

The blog post did note that “cartoonists have to be careful not to commit trade libel because they don’t want to be sued.” Artists often try to avoid this by putting product names in quotes or using a trademark symbol.

To see the full blog post, click here.

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