Forget anything else you have heard about Fifty Shades of Grey. What people don’t mention is that the protagonist Mr Christian Grey boasts an enviable collection of motors… and most of them are Audis!
The Audi R8 Spyder, Audi A3 and the Audi Quattro SUV all feature in the books, but Audi was not actually involved in this highly profitable product placement. It was all for free.
Bestselling author E.L.James simply chose the brand for its quality and luxury value, finding it most suitable for the ridiculously handsome and wealthy Christian Grey.
What’s more – she isn’t even an Audi owner or huge fan herself. Apparently she drives a Mini and her husband drives a Volkswagon Touareg.
It should be noted that during the course of the three books, a couple other cars get mentions too; the Saab 9-3 was purchased for Ana after her Audi A3 was damaged, and her best friend Katherine drives a Mercedes CLK. But the Audi gets most of the limelight.
The books are estimated to have sold over 30 million e-book and print copies in English alone, with book rights sold in several countries. Funnily enough, this seems to coincide with Audi’s record sales results.
Audi says it doesn’t have any data that proves that it’s reaching more women or seeing a rise in sales as a direct result of “50 Shades,” but they’re convinced that the halo effect has been be pretty significant.
So, let this be a lesson to all high end car brands. Stay true to your brand positioning as the luxury car of choice for users who want both design and performance, and be sure to include potential bestselling authors in your target audience.