50 Shades of Marketing

Lo and behold, the long awaited 50 Shades of Grey movie has been released in Europe and I, like many a curious young lady, trotted over to the cinema to check it out. I never read the books and had a biased, not-overly-positive opinion about the quality of the E.L. James’ writing, but had to indulge in at least an hour and a half of film watching to be able to form an educated opinion about this long-lasting cultural phenomenon.

The movie was well made, shallow plot and taboo topic aside, but this isn’t a movie review. Instead, I wondered how such a not-so-qualitative novel could generate so much buzz and commercial success. There are clearly marketing and branding lessons aplenty to be learned.

For starters, this article by Rieva Lesonsky talks about the business pointers we can take from E.L. James, including not reinventing the wheel, not striving for perfection, choosing your sales channel and being able to enhance your initial offering.

Then, of course, we have a myriad of retailers across the U.S. trying to capitalise on the buzz, as covered by Fortune today. 5 or so shades of OPI nail polish… really? I failed to notice Dakota Johnson wearing any polish in the movie but then again, why not?

The one thing that the author did really well, I think, is to fill a niche that was ripe for the picking. To be fair, no one before E.L. James had brought BDSM and kink to the masses so masterfully. She managed to strike just the right balance between risqué and familiar and turn a previously unthinkable topic into a mainstream phenomenon, palatable for the average housewife worldwide.

We can only thank her for liberating us.

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