Fifty Shades of Grey Marketing Strategy Positions Novel as Fiction Phenomenon

The Fifty Shades trilogy has skyrocketed to global popularity and become the fastest-selling book in the U.K. While the sexual storyline would seem to be a powerful marketing angle, publishers opted to promote the novel as a phenomenon of fiction that has the world buzzing and racing to read. recently reported on how this savvy marketing strategy positioned the novel as a much-loved discovery instead of a risqué read.

“Our marketing has not been about sex at all, it has been about the discovery of a book that everyone is talking about,” said Laurence Festal, deputy marketing director at Cornerstone Publishing, a part of Random House.

The publishers have focused on promoting the novel as a recommendation from millions of fellow readers since that is often the way that consumers select books. The most effective way to build word-of-mouth is through social media, and the publishers have wisely leveraged digital marketing with great success.

In the early stages of marketing, publishers took a unique approach by conducting research on social media sites to determine the types of audiences that were buzzing about the book in chat rooms. This research revealed that women aged 35 and over were the primary market and that most of them discussed the romance and relationships in the novel rather than its sexual nature. The publishers also realized that Facebook was where people gathered after reading the first work, Shades of Grey, while Twitter was where they commented after finishing all three stories in the book. This insight drove the direction of the entire marketing campaign and would not have been possible without the direct feedback gleaned from social media.

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As a result of this research, they created a fan hub on Facebook where book lovers could share their views and publishers could join in on their conversations with exclusive information about the novel. Interestingly, 44 percent of Facebook followers actually comment whenever the publishers post an update. Publishers also relied on Twitter as a place where book advocates and influencers could spread the positive word of mouth about the trilogy.

Clearly, this social media strategy proved extremely successfully and led to the book becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Currently, the official Fifty Shades Facebook page has 287,000 “likes” and nearly 114,000 readers who keep talking and telling their friends about this must-read love story.

To learn more about the latest trends in social media strategies and digital marketing,contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797, or visit

At MDG Advertising, a full-service traditional and digital marketing agency with offices in Boca Raton, FL and New York, NY, our 360° marketing approach uses just the right mix of traditional and online media to reach your marketing goals. While some industries may fare better in print and others online, we strive to create a balanced approach where traditional and digital marketing efforts support each other and your marketing message is tailored to the medium. To stay on top of the latest trends in digital marketing, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit



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