A Shade Too Far?
It’s February, which means the next impending holiday soon to be upon us is Valentine’s Day. While for some, February 14th symbolises an opportunity to act extremely mushy towards your significant other and partake in unnecessary PDAs, I like many other females know all to well that this year the day brings with it a larger occasion, the official release of the movie adaption of Fifty Shades of Grey. The film is set to be one of the major blockbusters of 2015 and it seems companies will do anything to jump on the lusty bandwagon. And why not? After the success of the books alone, lingerie retailer Ann Summers saw their sales rocket and they, like many other businesses, certainly haven’t finished milking the franchise yet.
It seems everyone wants a piece of that sultry pie with daytime television even gaining some provocative exposure. ‘This Morning’ recently caused outrage after airing a ‘Bondage for Beginners’ segment. Presenters Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakly seemed highly amused while a sexpert talked them through the various oils, bondage equipment and sex toys available on the market to satisfy intermediate and advanced levels. Twitter went crazy with people airing their disgust at the content on the mid-morning program, condemning it as highly inappropriate. Eyebrows were raised even further when it then came time for some real life reviews from viewers, which only further exacerbated the sleazy situation. It begs us to ask the question has society become so sexualised that anything goes in the pursuit of capitalising on the momentum of Fifty Shades?
It seems the answer to that question might well be a big throbbing yes! While lingerie and sex toys are under the umbrella of being relatable, some brands have taken extreme lengths to build a bridge between themselves and the upcoming movie. Take the recent promotional efforts of Domino’s Pizza in Israel who felt so inspired by the current trend that they took it upon themselves to develop a print advert which would echo the sordidness of the coveted novels. The outcome is something that while quite extraordinary is also so wrong in its image that it’s had my stomach turning. I’m struggling to comprehend why it was necessary to subject the general public to this bondage clad tongue and moreover how this is considered effective promotional material for an international pizza take away service.
The list of companies shamelessly hoping to tap into the allure of Christian Grey continues. Bobbi Brown, an established make up brand, has produced a ‘Come Hither’ line which features a ‘shades of grey’ eye shadow pallet, perfect for catching the attention of any admirer. You can also sip on Fifty Shades of Grey wine, and at $17.99 a bottle, the ‘white silk’ and ‘red satin’ beverages are not even cheap enough to be comical! And if that doesn’t get you in the mood for love, why not purchase some Fifty Shades-themed jewellery to woo your other half into some compromising positions.
It isn’t just pizza and jewellery that is seeing some Fifty Shades-themed modifications, we have witnessed the most obscure of products being shamelessly branded with reminders of the sexually charged film. One of the most controversial items to be given a dubious rework is children’s clothing. Yes, it is apparently now acceptable to dress ones child in a baby grow which has ‘9 months ago my mummy read Fifty Shades of Grey’ emblazed onto it, definitely a conversation starter at Tumble Tots. And if the baby grow wasn’t enough, enter the Fifty Shades of Grey teddy bear, priced at a whopping $89.99, even he looks uncomfortable with this whole sordid affair.
It’s fair to say the abundance of brands who have released products that adopt the Fifty Shades of Grey persona will certainly make for some interesting stories come February 15th. The subject of taste however must be raised – just because sex apparently sells, is it ethical for any product or programme to exploit the popularity of this franchise? And moreover should the film fail to deliver upon the fantasies many women have developed, will associated products find themselves tarnished by the whip-wielding stigma attached to the controversial film?