Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fifty Shades of Post

If you came here because this popped up on a search and you're looking for a serious post... turn back! Turn back and head for the hills! Rant incoming!

The following rant is brought to you by a local Mexican eatery that shall remain nameless. Let's call it El Bar and Grill.

I should also throw this caveat up front: I'm going to try really hard not to make any disparaging remarks toward the novels. That's not the point of this rant. Plenty of folks have already ranted about that. This is about the Fifty Shades advertising movement. Make no mistake, it is a movement. A jumping the shark sort of movement. Each and every shade.

Let me back up. What inspired this?

I live in central Indiana. For those that may not remember map coloring class in middle school (we called it social studies, but it consisted of a lot of map coloring), here's a quick fact about the great Hoosier state. Our capital is smack dab in the middle. I remember this being somewhat unique, and some history book saying how this has worked in Indiana's favor as far as transportation goes. If the state is a wheel, the capital is the axle, and wheels work a whole lot better when the axle is more or less centered. Smoother ride, or something like that. I'm no historian.

The side effect is that we have this "all roads lead to Indy" thing going on. My daily commute finds me starting on the very top edge of the axle, and taking a straight spoke north to the lovely city of Kokomo, IN. Kokomo is a unique city, in that it is sort of large... but I think it lacks a certain urban feel to it. The auto industry has formed the backbone of the city, and the city's demographic reflects that. Very blue collar. Maybe it's just me, but I feel this whole city meets country vibe.

Anyway, as I was motoring into town this morning, I spied a sign on the side of the road. It was advertising El Bar and Grill with a photo of several shots lined up on a bar. The tagline read: "Fifty Shades of Tequila." That was all.

I don't get it. Does the tequila mess with you until your utter the safe word? In my vast experience with tequila, the safe word is "where is the bathroom" and even then it does not relent. You're in for a long night.

But this is part of a larger trend. I feel like I've seen Fifty Shades of Your Product Name Here. It's like, if just slap 50 shades on it, it'll sell. Not just with books, but with, well, everything.

I can't help but wonder about the marketing meetings. How was this discussed at El Bar and Grill? "Well, our target demographic is women who read kinky romance novels. This billboard will speak to them. It will conjure just the right amount of whips and chains that make you think... gee I need a shot of tequila, and maybe some taquitos to wash it down."

Are the words "fifty shades" really that powerful that they can catapult your sales, just by a mere rubbing of elbows? Your product doesn't even have to be related, just slap the words down and, BANG, instant sales. Is that really how it works?

I can't imagine El Bar and Grill was licensing the use of the phrase, either. They're pretty local, as far as I know. This is not a big chain. Same goes for most of the other places I've seen it used. (For the record, I'm cool with it being used with, say, an lingerie line. That makes a certain amount of sense.)

It just all seems so crazy. I don't remember anyone ever being like "We make a tasty tequila... Twilight," or "Have a tequila Breaking Dawn," or "Drink a New Moon... oops, we meant Blue Moon, with a tequila shot." Or, to use another giant book franchise (this one unrelated): "Harry Potter and the Many Shots of Tequila."

To be fair, I'd check out that last place. Just so long as I don't have to experience the sequel: "Harry Potter and the Revenge of Montezuma."


Elizabeth Anne Mitchell said...

Oh my, Matt, I know the restaurant of which you speak! My hubby worked in Kokomo for a year while I was in Bloomington, which is why we always giggle when we hear the line in the old Beach Boys song, "way down in Kokomo." Sorry, off topic!

I don't get the popularity of the book series, but I *really* don't get why every marketing guy in the country has jumped on the 50 shades bandwagon. I agree--lingerie line, BDSM website, sure! Restaurant? I don't get it.

Of course to be honest, I do have a little green-eyed monster going on, as I do whenever something really badly written gets tons of attention, but your point that the Potter series didn't receive the same attention is a good one.

Color me 50 shades of confused.

Matt said...

Ha, small world. And yes, this Kokomo is way, way less exotic. :-)

It's as if every perv marketing guy who's been shamelessly repeating the "sex sells" mantra for the last 20 years popped in saying: "SEE! TOLD YA!"

And now they're rubbing it in (or rubbing one out?) on everything they possibly can to make up for lost time.

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