"Fifty Shades of Grey" sparks marketing mania

Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:16pm EDT
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By Andrea Burzynski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wildly popular erotica trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey" has inspired publishers, record labels, sex shops, and even crafty parents to submit - to the desire to cash in, that is.

The trio of novels by British writer E.L. James that has so far sold 32 million copies in the United States has spawned a legion of fans clamoring for anything and everything Grey-related. And businesses are aiming to meet that demand.

Manhattan sex shop Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah said after the final book in the trilogy was released in the United States in January, customers "were asking for specific toys that they had read about," but when the trilogy was re-released in April, "the product sales started to really spike."

Since then Cavanah noticed a sevenfold increase in demand for a particular sex toy featured in a sex scene between the book's two main characters, the dominant Christian Grey and ingénue Anastasia Steele. Riding crops, restraints, blindfolds, and spanking powder have also been popular.

The store also sells special "Fifty Shades" kits and hosts "Fifty Shades"-themed workshops that teach the mostly female attendees how to use the sex toys, but Cavanah said that wasn't the only curiosity - "They also just want to get together and see each other."

Fans have also been offered "Fifty Shades"-themed fashions, accommodations, and more recently, an official music album.

"Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album," featuring Bach and Chopin, is the only spin-off item James has so far endorsed.

Released by EMI with tracks James personally selected, it debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. classical charts in September. The album resulted after another "Fifty Shades" compilation series hit No. 1 in July on iTunes, said EMI Classics Vice President Wendy Ong, "and she (James) noticed, and we started talking."   Continued...