Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, humorously dubbed “mommy porn” after becoming a sensation among middle-aged women and selling over 30 million e-book and print copies to date. However, it wasn’t the erotic subject matter that piqued our interest in the series by E.L. James, but rather the many appearances of various Audi brand automobiles throughout all three of the books.
Our founder and president Rob Donnell spoke with Ad Age about the rare instance where a branded tie-in is driven by the essence of a product and how it helps tell the story, rather than a brand’s desire to be a part of popular content. “It was probably purely character-driven,” Donnell told Ad Age. “Cars always define character quite precisely, and that’s usually one of the ways [brands] can get in early” on books, TV shows or movies. When deals can sprout up organically and later lead to a paid arrangement between a brand and an entertainment property can be ideal. But it’s not so common these days, he said. “You see this less more so these days than five years ago because everyone knows that money is to be had [from brands].”