5 Marketing Lessons from Fifty Shades of Grey

By Michael Roderick  -  On 03 Mar, 2015 -  0 comments

If you have spent any time watching TV or browsing the internet within the past few months, chances are you have seen something about Fifty Shades of Grey. From the re-postings of this trailer, to the endless parodies, to the box office records it’s like it was a little while back when you found it everywhere on the subway. So when something is so ubiquitous, whether you love it or hate it (see lesson three), there are certainly a number of marketing lessons to take away that you can use. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Mr Grey will see you now . . .

  1. “This is my ‘Play-room.’” – If you just smirked after reading this, then you’ve just had a different experience than someone who knows nothing about this book or this scene. Word play is incredibly powerful when you are working on encouraging conversation about what you offer as is evidenced by the amount of press attention lines like the one above get. When you are crafting an offering think about the words you use and where they take the consumer. Do the words you use encourage your consumer to think about multiple things? Do they make the consumer feel like they are in on the joke or in on the secret? Or are you avoiding any double meanings? Even the idea that this guy’s last name is Grey is a play on words that gets us thinking which leads me to my next point
  2. Titles Matter - Imagine if the title of the book had been BDSM for Beginners or Safe Word there would be no mystery behind the content of the book and that is the most powerful thing Fifty Shades has going for it. If you are looking at book titles it encourages curiosity and then if you buy it and start reading it you probably are a bit surprised by the content and aren’t sure if you should share it with the ol’ book club but you keep digging in. For many people they felt like it was “naughty” to read it on the subway and yet, a number of months back that was all I saw anywhere I looked. The title you choose has one chance to capture the attention of the consumer and once they peek beyond the title if you aren’t giving them something different and engaging you’ve probably lost them. Way too many people spend less time on titles than they should. Consider this one the next time you’re thinking of naming your next product or service.
  3. “There’s a very fine line between pleasure and pain.” - Some people absolutely hate this book and the movie and some people are obsessed with it which means that everyone keeps talking about it. A friend of mine in branding once said to me that if you don’t create something that people hate or strongly dislike, you probably won’t be able to make something that people love. The controversy surrounding this book further speaks to the power of polarization. In your business and your messaging, who are you NOT for? Who do you turn off? You can’t be for everyone because then you’d be for no one. So who are you getting to love you and who loves to hate you?
  4. We want what we think we can’t have. - The whole premise of a story like this lives on the idea that there are people out there who have more than we have and who do things we may have never tried or thought about trying. You can’t argue that a bunch of couples went to this film on Valentine’s Day in the hopes that it would spice up their sex life. Marketing does the same thing. It presents us with the idea that we can have something new and different in our lives. Now granted if your product or service screws with your consumer’s mental state, I don’t think you should be in business, but if you make people curious enough about what you’re offering to want to learn from you, that’s pretty powerful stuff.
  5. Everything has a shelf life. - In a few weeks we’ll be on to the next thing. The sequels to the movie will not do as well as the first one and the world will have moved on to something else. No matter how well you package something and how much attention it gets, it will die down because the masses are always looking for something new to talk about. This is important to remember in your own marketing efforts. You’ll have to refresh your brand and what you do to stay relevant and no matter how much you shock and surprise people, it eventually wears out. Sorry E.L. :(

When something becomes really big and a lot of people start buying it or writing about it: pay attention, even if it’s not your thing. You can learn a number of great lessons about packaging your own products and services.

Now that’s some sexy stuff.