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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 16:11 GMT
Ford advertises the literary way
By Martin Plaut
BBC News

Ford Fiesta
"She's red, raunchy, and drives like a dream..."
We have got used to seeing consumer products promoted in films and television programmes.

But Ford is claiming a first with a deal that puts its cars into the pages of a book.

The company has paid British novelist Carole Matthews to mention their cars prominently in her work.

Ms Matthews is what's called a "chick lit" writer, producing romantic fiction that appeals specifically to young women.

She has been paid to include a Ford in her latest book - The Sweetest Taboo.

The car giant also commissioned her to write short stories for women's magazines and its own website.

Read all about it

One snippet from a story on the Ford website entitled A Racy Little Number reads:

"I look out of the window of the shop and eye my lovely Ford Fiesta Roxanne with something approaching misery.

"Last year was a different story. Business was booming and I splashed out on my first-ever new car. Brand spanking new - complete with enough gadgets to keep even Alex amused.

"She's red, raunchy and drives like a dream and now, she's got to go. Believe me, it will be like cutting off one of my own arms."

So is this a devaluation of literature? Carole Matthews says she had no problems accepting the Ford commission.

No sell-out

Wherever my heroine is driving a car, it will now be a Ford Fiesta," she told the BBC's World Business Report.

"That's the only thing they've asked me to do, they've placed no other constraints on my writing at all."

She added that the deal showed that Ford had "woken up to the fact that young women have money, and we like cars, and we don't rely on our husbands to buy them for us."

While this is believed to be the first time that cars have been promoted through popular novels, the ploy of literary product placement is not a new one.

Three years ago, celebrated British novelist Faye Weldon brokered a deal with Italian jewellery maker Bulgari to plug their products in a novel appropriately entitled 'The Bulgari Collection.'

Carole Matthews, author of 'The Sweetest Taboo'
"Ford came into the project quite late."

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