Jonathan Franzen Sells Out to Adidas

Posted on August 10, 2016

Jonathan Franzen was a guest on Late Night With Seth Meyers to promote the paperback version of his novel Purity. Franzen decided to do a reading from the middle of the book. Before he started he told the audience that the paperback was sponsored by Adidas, because the publishing industry is having some trouble.

With that disclaimer out of the way, he begins reading a scene between Andreas, an East German businessman and Pip, a young American woman. The scene reads a little differently than the one in the hardcover version. See if you can spot the product placement:

"Andreas was at a table in the corner of the bar typing on a tablet. Pip was just disoriented to be the person plunking her un-famous self down next to him, but she felt good in her Adidas Super Nova tank top with Clima-Lite fabric designed with anti-wicking moisture-blocking technology, perfect for staying dry in Bolivia's muggy climate."

Franzen reads the text completely straight-faced, even when Pip looks down at her, "Pure Boost X Training shoes with their layered mesh overlays for adjustable forefoot midfoot and heel support ...which are available at" But it gets even more ridiculous. He reads, "Andreas was spinning a basketball on his finger, the signature Adidas All Court Synthetic Leather design -- Somehow it was easier to spin than other balls."

He never breaks once, even as his characters spout more ads than NBC on the opening night of the Rio Olympics. Franzen really is a master satirist. But who knew Franzen he had such a talent for sketch comedy? We do think he has a brilliant backup career as a copywriter for athletic wear. Take a look:

More from Writers Write