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Commercial Alert Asks Book Reviewers Not to Review Ad-Laden Children's Series 'Mackenzie Blue'

May 12, 2008
1:59 PM

CONTACT: Commercial Alert
Robert Weissman (202) 387-8030

Commercial Alert Asks Book Reviewers Not to Review Ad-Laden Children's Series 'Mackenzie Blue'
WASHINGTON, DC - May 12 - HarperCollins Children’s Books announced it will be publishing a new book series for children that will include brand placements. In response, Commercial Alert sent letters to children’s book review editors, requesting that they not review the “Mackenzie Blue” series because it is really an advertisement.

Following is the text of the letter:

Dear [Book Review Editor],

HarperCollins Children’s Books recently announced it is publishing a new series for children entitled “Mackenzie Blue.” According to news reports, the “Mackenzie Blue” series will be infiltrated with product-placement hidden advertisements and will be designed effectively as a marketing vehicle for big companies.

The author of the series, Tina Wells, is chief executive of Buzz Marketing Group, which specializes in marketing to children and adolescents.

It is not unknown for works of fiction to advance political and other agendas, but this crosses a line, especially as it is geared toward 8- to 12-year-olds. “Mackenzie Blue” is in the form of a children’s novel. But in reality it is an adjunct of a corporate marketing campaign aimed at impressionable children and adolescents. Its contents have been altered to that end. (Our letter to Susan Katz, publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, detailing our concerns, is attached.)

Will you treat this book as a novel to be reviewed, or as an advertisement, which is suitable for discussion in the business pages?

We strongly urge you to choose the latter. Something large is at stake here. There is a difference between a novel and an ad; and if you do not uphold that distinction, then who will?


Robert Weissman,
Managing Director


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