Fictional Brands

Fictional Brands

A fictional brand is a non-existing brand used in artistic or entertainment productions – paintings, books, comics, movies, TV serials, etc. The fictional brand may be designed to imitate a real corporate brand, satirize a real corporate brand, or differentiate itself from real corporate brands. Such a device may be required where real corporations are unwilling to license their brand names for use in the fictional work, particularly where the work holds the product in a negative light. More recently, Muzellec, Lynn and Lambkin have shown that fictional brands may be used for commercial purposes through the process of reverse product placement. Their paper considers the case of Duff Beer and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and reveals that consumers'attachment to those brands in the fictional world may be leveraged through “defictionalisation” or “productisation” in the real world. Muzellec, Lynn and Lambkin suggest the fictional brands represent brand potential rather than brand reality; they are in effect, “protobrands”. They propose that “protobrands” can be leveraged and transformed into registered trademarks which can derive revenue for their owners through reverse product placement or, more accurately, reverse brand placement. Some fictional brands have crossed over from the fictional world in which they initially reside to become real products. These includes Harry Potter’s Bertie Botts’ Every Flavour Beans, now available as real candy manufactured by the Jelly Belly Company and Duff, a beer brand now available for consumption in Europe which initially appeared in the “The Simpsons”. The trend seems to be on the increasing as in 2012, two prominent fictional brands have come to life as real products: Staples Inc. has now started selling its own product of manufactured paper under the "Dunder Mifflin" name under license from NBC's parent company, Comcast. Dunder Mifflin is the paper company of the famous TV show “The Office”. Dunder Mifflin paper is now available on Staples' website Quill.com. Avion Tequila (http://tequilaavion.com/) from the HBO hit show Entourage has also been defictionalised and is now available as a real product in New York trendy bars. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those two launches have been successful.

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