Condom makers capitalize on ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

With “Fifty Shades of Grey” slated to hit theaters on Valentine’s Day weekend, condom brands are trying to get a piece of the action. Trojan and Durex are launching campaigns that are spinoffs of E.L. James’s bestselling-novel-turned-movie.

Apparently, Valentine’s Day coincides with National Condom Day. And prophylactic sales peak around this time, at least according to Trojan and Durex. Add to that the immense popularity of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, with over 100 million copies of the books sold worldwide to date.

At the center of Trojan’s “50 Shades of Pleasure” campaign is a farcical video that pokes fun at couples who go to the extremes of whips and chains when they could simply use lubricants and vibrators. It encourages couples get out of the “grey area” (pun fully intended) and into the “50 Shades of Real Pleasure.”

“This is truly a pop culture moment, and one that overlaps with sexual health,” Bruce Weiss, vp of marketing for Trojan, told Digiday. “It was apt for us to be a part of it and provide real solutions to achieve great sex.”

The two-minute parody made its debut on the brand’s Facebook and YouTube page on Tuesday and has already gathered over 35,000 views on the latter. A 15-second version will be screened in select AMC and Regal theaters showing R-rated films, along with a short spot for Trojan’s lube line.

Trojan enlisted sex therapist and relationship expert Dr. Sari Cooper to share tips on spicing up the bedroom without the anxiety. It is also promoting the campaign socially, with the hashtag #ShadesofTrojan.

Durex, for its part, has launched a microsite for its “Fifty Shades of Grey”-inspired campaign called “50 Games To Play,” which promises to turn fiction into reality — at least as far as people’s sex lives are concerned. A Durex survey revealed that 61 percent of people think that fun in the bedroom beats watching a steamy flick or reading a sexy book, so the site is full of ideas for “mind games” and “body games,” including bedroom versions of “Truth or Dare” and “20 Questions.”

“We look for inspiration in everyday life, from videos and books, but we don’t always bring those adventures to life with our partners,” Aurore Trepo, marketing director at Durex USA, told Digiday. “We hope that this video and #50GamesToPlay guide will help couples try something new this Valentine’s Day.”

Durex also released a video poking fun at people’s lack of creativity in bed, using scenes directly inspired by the “Fifty Shades” trailer but with funny alternative endings. One, for example, starts with the iconic elevator scene but ends with the couple reading a book.

Durex’s video has amassed more than 1.2 million views in 48 hours on Facebook and more than 1.6 million views on YouTube. Its hashtag #50GamesToPlay is also picking up, with nearly 600 mentions, according to social analytics firm Topsy.

There is no shortage of other retailers cashing in on the franchise and the movie’s upcoming release. Vermont Teddy Bears has a “Christian Grey teddy bear” inspired by the book’s main character, sporting a suit and carrying mini handcuffs and a blindfold, whereas Target is selling Fifty Shades-branded adult toys. U.K.-based online sex shop Lovehoney holds the exclusive rights to the “Fifty Shades of Grey Official Pleasure Collection.”

Not everyone is a fan of the franchise, however. According to Mashable, a social media campaign with the hashtag #50dollarsnot50shades is doing the rounds, asking people to donate $50 to a domestic violence shelter rather than spending it on movie tickets for a film that propagates it.

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