Thursday, July 05, 2012

Clever Book Marketing or Ripping off a Bestselling Author’s Brand?

Jeffrey Eugenides is bestselling author who won a Pulitzer Prize. His trademark image is vest, similar to Steve Job’s black turtle neck. He promoted his latest bestseller, The Marriage Plot, on a billboard in Times Square.

Jennifer Weiner, author of several Chick Lit novels such as In Her Shoes, is launches her latest one: The Next Best Thing. She promoted her novel copycatting Jeffrey’s ad. She appeared in an ad featured on various literary sites wearing a vest against a yellow background – eerily similar to the billboard of Eugenides. 
Since his vest is so famous, it even has its own Twitter account.  Weiner's ad boasts, "Jeffrey Eugenides doesn't have a book out this summer, but Jennifer Weiner has ... The Next Best Thing.

The similarity between the two ads is clearly intended; Weiner sports the same vest, the colors and layout of the ad are the same, and Weiner clearly copies Eugenides – outfit, posture, just look at the image!

Weiner tries to justify her rip-off as good old tongue-in-cheek fun. However, by cleverly leveraging social media, she uses viral marketing for personal gain – piggyback riding on a more reputable and famous author. 

Weiner claims: "I saw the billboards, thought, 'Wow, how brilliant (an ad in Times Square!)' and, 'Wow, those are interesting fashion choices!' (Vest, paisley shirt). From then, it was just a question of finding a vest that fit me (thanks, Men's Wearhouse!), and getting the right expression of un-smug, yeah-I've-got-a-Pulitzer, bitch confidence.

She added that she has no plans to wear the vest on her book tour but may "pass it along to the next female author who could use a little Jeff E magic." 

Eugenides himself has not responded yet. However, he might consider suing Ms. Weiner for her blatant rip-off….