A New Approach to Advertising

50 Shades James L. sent me the following story: 

Greetings!  This was weird.  Before work, someone came to the front door (getting a large barking fit from my dogs), left a package on the porch, and departed.  I figured it was one of those deliveries where they don't leave it in the mailbox but you don't have to sign for it.  I thought it was a delivery for Mom, but it turned out to be a generic promotion for auto washing, complete with coupons and business cards.  So, what was odd about this (and worth telling you)?

All the car stuff was tucked into a copy of 50 Shades of Grey.

Yup, they gave a free copy of the book (used — the sticker was still on the front) to try to encourage folks to get their car washed, waxed, etc.  This seems very strange: There's no erotic scene(s) in the book revolving around cars, and there was nothing from the company linking to the book to the service.  (Best I could come up with: “Enjoy a dirty book — and a clean car!”)  Since this wasn't addressed to me or Mom, my theory is that someone either got a lot of used books or heard how popular 50 Shades was, and opted to pass out the books to try and get some business.  It didn't work for me — but it seems like a very strange combo.

That has to be one of the strangest methods of promotion ever. A used copy of this book? I wonder how much they paid for it! And whether all the neighbors got a copy, too? So very strange!

If someone was going to drop a book full of coupons on your porch to advertise a local business, which book do you think would be the best one to use? 50 or something else? 

 

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    VandyJ says:

    Definitely something else.  I haven’t read and don’t intend to read 50.  So for me this type of promotion would only work if any other book was used.

  2. 2
    Karenmc says:

    I might be more tempted to call the Better Business Bureau. That’s a crazy way to do a promotion.

  3. 3
    Parajunkee says:

    That is so bizarre. You would think they would drop off something car related or a magnet for your fridge…LOL

    Maybe they want you to associate their establishment with sexy time? ;)

  4. 4
    Hannah E. says:

    How funny!  I’m not really interested in reading 50 Shades, but I heartily approve of this advertizing method in general.  Not that it would necessarily work on me (the coupons would probably go into the trash immediately), but if someone wants to give me free romance novels, they’re welcome to.

  5. 5
    DelDryden says:

    A used copy of ANY erotica or erotic romance = instant “Ewwww!”

    So for me this would be not only a marketing fail but also a major squick. But I really can’t think of a book that WOULD be a marketing win for this sort of thing. It’s just a weird juxtaposition.

  6. 6

    I like the idea (free book!), but it should definitely be done with something other than erotica. I can’t help picturing the fallout involving an early rising young bookworm and a protective parent.

  7. 7
    Ruthie Knox says:

    If someone’s going to leave random items on my porch, I’d prefer that they leave toys for Kidlet. He already thinks every package is a toy for him anyway, so it would avoid his inevitable heartbreak, and if the toy kept him occupied for half an hour, I’d be so pleased, I’d be inclined to buy whatever that random advertiser was selling. :-)

  8. 8
    Sveta says:

    Probably other books, maybe popular romance novels such as Harlequin titles or perhaps popular contemporary titles with food coupons or codes.

    http://sveta-randomblog.blogsp…

  9. 9
    Ksisk says:

    I would think Pamela Morsi’s Bikini Car Wash would have been more appropriate. And it’s a good book, too!

  10. 10
    Unimaginative says:

    I’d be curious to hear if the neighbours got the same book, or different ones.  Did the marketers specifically pick out 50SoG, or just a random stack at the UBS.  Maybe next door, they got some old Zane Greys, or Catherine Cooksons.  That would be cool.  However, they really ought to tie it together, something to specially say, hey, have a book on us, and come read it while we wash your car.  (It would probably be better to have a leave a book/take a book shelf AT the actual car wash, though.)

  11. 11
    Emily A. says:

    Is this advertising or something else? I’m thinking this is a unique gift from a secret admirer. He wants to impress you, but he’s not sure how. He thinks your either a neat freak who needs to get her car washed a lot or someone who reads dirty books, but he can’t decide which so he sends you both. Maybe he wants to be your own personal Gray, but he needs you to clean your car first. I think the gift back fired as there’s a squick factor. If a guy wanted to impress me, romance wouldn’t be a bad idea but not BDSM. For my personal tastes something like Harry Potter or Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke would be nice.
    Also it could just be a bribe from your neighbor’s to get your car washed if it’s particularly dirty.

  12. 12
    SB Sarah says:

    I’m not sure if finding an old Zebra on my porch, one of the books with technicolor eyeshadow and swans freaking out in the background, would be awesome or completely scary!

  13. 13
    Kirsten Laurie says:

    I like how this person thinks.  If they wanted attention brought to their business, well I would say it worked.  And maybe, just maybe, they are trying to get more female customers, since I don’t understand why a guy would read 50 Shades anyway.  Or maybe they would.  I don’t know. 
    If someone were to leave a book on my porch, they’d grab my attention way more if it was a naughty one.  Ergo, 50 Shades and it’s growing infamy. 

  14. 14
    Vicki says:

    Definitely not erotica. Imagine finding your eight year old reading through that and asking questions (actually, I’d probably cope but a lot of people might not). It would need to appeal to a range of people and not be at all stalkerish. I did once have an interested young man (in the days before the term stalker was used) who would leave (among other things) romances on my porch with the interesting bits underlined. So romance might freak me out. Maybe a mystery? A YA? Maybe fantasy? Or something popular about science?

  15. 15
    Megan says:

    Hey a free book is free book that’s ok but if it’s one in a genre that I like then it’s a good free book but if it’s one that’s from someone that I like or have been interested in, then I say great and I might think about using those coupons. That is if they’re any good.

  16. 16
    rooruu says:

    Did you ask your neighbours if they got a promo and if so, which book??

  17. 17
    CarrieS says:

    I’d like to second or thrid or whatever the request to find out what your neighbors got.

  18. 18
    Pam says:

    I think 50 Shades has become a kind of cultural shorthand for “See how cool I am; I’ve heard of 50!”  I actually had a somewhat related experience two weeks ago when I went to the Apple store to buy my first iPad.  The “genius” presenting the sales spiel was demonstrating the bookshelf app and, lo and behold, the example he chose was 50 Shades!  I found it inappropriate and not a little distracting.  I mean, you have to wonder why someone would make a choice like that.  How is the customer going to appreciate the full glory of your sales pitch if they’re furtively trying to peek at the text on the iPad?  Does genius boy pre-select the pages he’s going to pull up?  Do all these geniuses read 50 Shades on the sly during their down time?  Will I be able to refrain from snickering until this guy stops talking?  And, finally, what would Steve think?

  19. 19
    DesLivres says:

    They should have put the vouchers in a Bill Bryson book.

  20. 20
    Jewel says:

    It’s a cute idea, if poorly executed. I think restaurant coupons in old skool cookbooks would be really fun. I really like #10 Unimaginative’s comment about having a take a book/leave a book shelf at the car wash and tying that in with the book promo.

    And #17 Pam – I see a new marketing opportunity – WWST (what would steve think) bracelets!

  21. 21
    Tamara Hogan says:

    Doesn’t matter to me which book they might have placed the coupons in. If I don’t need my car washed, I wouldn’t use the coupons or patronize the business.

  22. 22
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    Ditto on the used erotica thing. It freaks me out. I just had this conversation with a friend yesterday. She overheard somebody asking for a used copy of 50 Shades of Grey in a bookstore, and she was squicked by the whole idea. We theorized that the market for used books in the PNW is particularly strong because we’re all commie tree-huggers here, but my brain was shrieking, “NO! Just buy the ebook! Or better yet, buy an ebook of some better erotica!”

  23. 23
    CarrieS says:

    Well…it’s not like used erotic books would have, you, know, fluids and stuff on them…unless I’ve been using them wrong…

  24. 24
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    Bwahahahaha! I don’t know; how DO you use them? :-)

  25. 25

    Okay, I’ve tried posting this five times now and it wouldn’t go through. Now I’m not only trying a 3rd browser, but a different computer.

    AHEM – I would like them to use a book they didn’t know what rare that I could turn around and sell for enough to cover my bills plus a few thousand left over.

  26. 26

    YAY! It worked! You know last night I even left the computer on and went to bed and when I woke up, it still said “please wait.” I tried Chrome, Firefox, and now IE and it FINALLY worked!

  27. 27
    henofthewoods says:

    Maybe it wasn’t really a promotion for the car cleaner – maybe someone was personally dropping off a copy which had coupons tucked into it and they mistook the address. Because who would use a used book for a promotion?

  28. 28
    Pam says:

    Yeah, this makes sense.  Coupons make great bookmarks.

  29. 29
    KzoeT says:

    I would be totally weirded out by a stranger leaving erotica on my doorstep.

  30. 30
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    This doesn’t sound right at all…I’m surprised that a company would even consider using this method of advertising, especially when you consider that while a lot of people have read 50SoG, a lot haven’t and a lot wouldn’t (for various reasons).  And then the whole idea of advertising with a used book—any used book, regardless of title—doesn’t seem, well,  appropriate (—adjusts Queen Victoria-esque bodice and bustle).  Anyway, I would certainly investigate further—find out who sent it and why.

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