‘Fifty Shades’: A Marketing Phenomenon

‘Fifty Shades’: A Marketing Phenomenon
Juicy Jay

The statistics suggest that at its peak, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book was selling every second on average. Even years after its 2011 debut, the books have entered the all-time bestseller list with worldwide sales over 125 million copies.

It’s a complete success of marketing, and it proves that sex sells and that the general public absolutely loves it. The walls are coming down.

Those in the adult industry probably find the whole “Fifty Shades” franchise to be a little mundane, but for most people this is their very first exposure to the world of kink and its absolutely fascinating to them.

I haven’t read the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books. Maybe it’s my position as an outsider that allows me to see the core story for what it really is — a reflection of how many people’s lives are, and the general relationship between men and women.

Two years ago my girlfriend and I went to the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I will admit I was not a hostage. I was curious, and I went as an open-minded moviegoer, but the theater was full of mostly middle-aged women.

Clearly, I was the minority. The date obviously went well, because my girlfriend and I are married now and expecting our first child. The movie struck a chord for me (and not because of the sex scenes). The movie reminded me of every serious relationship I had ever been in, and no, I don’t mean seriously kinky.

When I was crossing the country frequently by plane, no matter where I sat on the planes it seemed anyone using a Kindle was reading without abandon from the “Fifty Shades” series. No ladies, you’re not fooling anyone. Not that it’s so scandalous, it’s not as naughty as watching porn on the plane (which does happen, by the way).

Those in the adult industry probably find the whole “Fifty Shades” franchise to be a little mundane, but for most people this is their very first exposure to the world of kink and its absolutely fascinating to them.

As I pass 17 years working in this industry, I can safely say that I have seen far more hardcore stuff on any random porn site. The books and subsequent movies did not come from our industry, and yet it has gained so much fanfare.

This, with porn available from every computer in the world with a few key strokes, anyone could have learned about this world long ago but didn’t. Why? Kink is now in popular culture and its mainstream.

When someone mentions “Fifty Shades,” their minds go to one place. It’s the tipping point, whether it’s from word of mouth or marketing, it happened. People read it, people told people about it and more people read it. Chicken and egg.

It’s so mainstream now that my wife and I dressed up as “Fifty Shades” for Halloween, and off we went to the party. Her in a cardigan or some sort of librarian looking thing with a frayed length of rope around her wrist and myself in a gray suit that I don’t think I have worn before or since.

I printed up business cards with “Christian Grey — Billionaire and Kinky Fucker” on it. Most people got it right away, and the others I handed a card, who then understood.

The thing about Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s relationship is that it is similar to many other couples and being a billionaire is not required.

He wants to possess and control her. Not in an abusive way, but it comes from a place of insecurity, despite his huge power professionally. It’s the reason some men drive by the ex-girlfriend’s house after a breakup or go into full-blown stalking.

Loss or the threat of loss is difficult, especially in new relationships. On the other side of the relationship you have Anastasia who at her core, wants to change and “help” him to be the full package of what she wants him to be.

Women often feel the desire to “fix” and mold their men. I think most men can identify with this one since it’s the cliche of pretty much every relationship and marriage, ever.

Surely, it’s been a boon for our industry as well as sex toy and kink retailers, who saw their sales increase strongly in 2015.

After the debut of the first “Fifty Shades” movie, toy and novelties sales increased further.

With the latest installment out this month, time will tell what effect it has on the industry and our culture. My wife and I are already planning to go.

For those in the dating scene, take that special someone. It’s an ice breaker stronger than a Tinder account.

Juicy Jay is the CEO and founder of JuicyAds, the Sexy Advertising Network. You can follow Jay on Twitter @juicyads, or like on Facebook.com/juicyads.