The Case of the Multiplying Millions: Sherlock Holmes in Advertising
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Somerset Maugham believed Sherlock Holmes’s longevity as a character was attributable to the way Arthur Conan Doyle hammered the detective’s idiosyncrasies into readers’ minds with ‘the same pertinacity as the great advertisers use to proclaim the merits of their soap, beer or cigarettes’ (1967: 160). Likening Holmes to consumer products in this way raises two interesting issues, firstly because it implies that the detective was becoming a ‘brand’ or ‘product’ in his own right with his own distinct set of widely recognised values, and secondly because Holmes was indeed appropriated by manufacturers of those very products – and many more – as a lucrative aid to their sales campaigns.
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