Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Practical Joke or Product Placement?

This photo, taken at a local Sainsbury's Market, was quite the buzz earlier this week on social networking sites. Supposedly taken by a shopper who found their product organization ironic, (Duracell Batteries on sale next to the Fifty Shades of Grey series) this picture has become quite popular, promoting the already infamous erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, even more. Initially I thought it was either a coincidental mistake on behalf of the store keeper or his or her idea of a practical joke, but after further consideration, I wondered at the possibility that it may have been a staged photo taken by someone in charge of promoting this book.

 Receiving over 100,000 hits on Facebook by 15:00 on the 17th of June, if this was meant to be promotional, it was successful. Does poking fun and making a joke out of something as a form of advertisement subconsciously make us want to accept it more so than before? Say you have always scoffed at the idea of reading one of these books, but after seeing this picture and its popularity on the social networking sites, I have to ask, doesn't it make you just a bit more curious to pick it up and read the inside of the cover?

1 comment:

  1. If the purpose of this product arrangement was meant to be a practical joke, it's a very good one. There is the heavy effect of priming here. Women who pick up the book and see the batteries are initially primed into thinking that they will need the batteries later on, so they buy the clearance Duracells. It is similar to selling bread grape jelly on the same shelf as peanut butter. You might need to buy both.

    The widespread popularity on Facebook comes from the funny nature of the picture. The book has already received public attention for being outrageous and taboo, so a funny picture in which is placed next to a somewhat corresponding product is sure to become viral. But can this picture be used as actual advertising? I think not. It definitely serves the purpose of further spreading the book's name, but it doesn't inspire anyone to go out and buy the sexually explicit novel. There is no list of benefits or testimonials from Facebook friends. Someone could have arranged the display to create a funny viral photo, but when it comes down to it, this picture is doing little to boost the sales of EL James's eccentric, or downright bizarre, book.