50 Shades of Grey Product Placement Successes

50 Shades of Grey Book Cover Illustrating Product Placement Blog

50 Shades of Grey hit the UK cinemas a couple of weeks ago amid a controversial media frenzy. Among the headlines were reports on the extraordinary number of brands due to be featured in this risqué film. But did we notice them? And if we did, do we care?

I will hold my hands up and say that I have been to see 50 Shades of Grey, I enjoyed it and I did indeed leave with a distinct taste for Bombay Sapphire after hearing it mentioned by the man himself.

I have a feeling that most people who have seen the film will have clocked at least one brand. They were a touch unavoidable! So, which one won the recall battle? Let’s do a little market research on it shall we, Product Lab Panel, you’re up…

Congratulations to Audi. 36% of our 50 Shades consumers recall the Audi brand with Apple and Ralph Lauren coming in a close second with 29% each. Other brands mentioned were Bose, Omega, Nike and Hendricks. Great news for all as far as the name game goes but what does this actually mean?

Are we really more likely to buy something just because we remember seeing it in a film?

Perhaps, with 29% of our Lab research panellists agreeing that they have purchased a product after being reminded of it or introduced to it on a TV show or in a film. ‘I have seen a few items in films and gone, “Wow, where can I get one of those.”' And I suppose you could also say that if 71% of consumers wouldn’t buy an item after seeing it placed the brand in question hasn't lost anything but I wonder…

In these days of information overload can it be detrimental to a brand if we find ourselves presented with it in a way which we consider invasive?

According to the Product Lab consumers it certainly can, ‘If the product placement is so obvious that it detracts from my enjoyment, or I feel that I am being exploited as a member of a captive audience, it gives me negative feelings towards the product.’ Ooh-Er! Be careful marketers.

‘Product placement just doesn’t work unless the viewer is already interested in that kind of thing. Cars don’t interest me but a nice Mulberry bag or a bottle of Chanel No 5 does so it depends on your audience.’ I couldn’t agree more. I remember the Audi and Apple brands from 50 Shades as well as Bombay Sapphire but unless I win the lottery, the gin manufacturer is the only one that will see the colour of my money.

So, whilst Audi may have romped home the winner in terms of 50 Shades of Grey product recall I would suggest the more important question is, what percentage of recall consumers fall within their target market and do these consumers now view Audi more or less favourably.

Find out what makes your target market tick with our Customer Profiling services.


Brands&Film: Product placement in pictures: 50 Shades of Grey

Bloomberg Business: Every Expensive Thing in Fifty Shades of Grey. Explained

Business Insider: These 13 Companies Are Benefitting Most From ’50 Shades of Grey’

Fifty Shades of Grey: the end. the art. the nipples – discuss the film with spoilers

About the Author

  • Stephanie Kent

    Stephanie Kent - Lab Reporter

    Our dedicated Lab Panel blogger, Steph is the voice of the consumer. From mortgages to special fried rice, if you want to know what the UK thinks, she's your girl. With a formidable background in both business and retail journalism Steph invites the Lab Panel to speak out about the latest consumer trends to hit the headlines. She reports the facts back to you, bringing the panellists to life with her own unique, quirky tone. We can't wait to read her blogs… and we know how they end.


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