February 13, 2015 Kevin Erb

“50 Shades of How Did This Thing Ever See the Light of Day?”

Even among its most fervent fans, you’d be hard-pressed to find many who’d argue that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a well-written or high-quality piece of literature. That did not stop it, of course, from selling tens of millions of copies and becoming a worldwide phenomenon.<

black_tieWell, the long-awaited and hotly debated movie version of the books debuts this weekend, as you may have heard. And, much like the books, the early reviews are…shall we say…less than stellar. This may be a case where the movie does stay true to the book, at least in its objectively poor quality.

Actually, there’s another way in which the movie will be just like the book – when it comes to quality, or glaring lack thereof, sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

Now, we’ll be the first to say that having a quality product or service is first and foremost among any organization’s priorities (yes, even above marketing). After all, you can have the most memorable and effective marketing in the world, but if you can’t deliver on what the marketing promises your product or service to be, then you’ve done more damage than good.

At the same time, we’ve talked about how it can be a savvy marketing technique to be bad on purpose – to be so bad you’re good. The “50 Shades” movie, just like the book, seems to be a case of neither of these. It’s most certainly not a quality product or service – and to no discerning eye does it seem to be bad on purpose. So, what gives?

Every once in a while, something comes along that seems to succeed in spite of itself. That defies all explanation, all logic, all reason, all basic human filters for quality and comprehension. For those fortunate few things that come along only every once in a great while, their ability to cut through the cultural clutter and perch itself atop the zeitgeist is something people will study for many years to come. The fact that, in these cases, quality doesn’t matter…just doesn’t make any sense.