Stop the madness.  How did I go from not having time to read a fiction book in years to being sucked down a vampire vortex so deep and suffocatingly sexy, I spend the non-existent free time I have Twilighting my life away?

Well… it started with a girlfriend of mine telling me how she was “enjoying” reading the Twilight Saga book series.  She suggested I might enjoy it too.  I laughed.  (a) I can’t stand the sight let alone reading about blood; (b) I left my teenage angst behind years ago; and (c) seriously, who has time?  I could be reading Gladwell’s latest or my Google Reader blog back-up I SOOO need to get through… right?

But with a knowing smile, that friend loaned me the first book – I cracked it on Easter weekend.

(Crack being the operative word.)

Pouring through the first book in record time, I was away on a business trip and found myself in an unfamiliar, neighbourhood book store… large sunglasses… head down… looking for Eclipse (book #3) BECAUSE I’d finished New Moon (book #2) at 2:30 in the morning.  Not seeing Twilight books anywhere, I adjust my sunglasses and quietly ask the shop-keeper for help.  He basically yells, “Twilight…sure!  Kids’ section.”  All heads in the quiet, serene book store turn.  I quickly follow him to the back of the store with the same flood of emotions I recalled from grade 9 when the guy at the drug-store bellowed, “Tampons?  Ya… aisle 4!”

Humbled, I ask myself… um… how did I get here? 

First published in 2005, I was a late adopter on this brand.  Was it the resulting teenage frenzied line-ups at the box office that suddenly intrigued me?  The cult-like, breathless anticipation I’d witnessed around each book release?  Or am I now just a cougar looking for a fantasy escape.  (And I don’t use the ‘c-word’ lightly.)

Turns out the books were just the beginning… the cross-over media since then boggles the mind. 

Movies – not as good as the books but who cares.  They’ve given us a face for Edward and a body for Jacob.

DVD’s – almost 10 million original Twilight movies have been sold to date; the 2nd New Moon movie sold 4 million copies in its launch weekend alone.

Soundtracks – hardly toe-tappers, but from vampire lullabies to Clair de Lune, soundtracks for both movies have broken download records.

Merchandise – clothing, jewelery, random gear… don’t get me started.

Make-up – I’m at the drug-store the other day, low on health and beauty essentials (because I’ve been reading!!) and there’s a Twilight make-up display.  I’m there for toothpaste and next thing you know I’m trying on Twilight branded lipstick, suddenly desperate because they’re out of the shade of blood red I HAD to have.  It wasn’t pretty.  And my (inside) voice was screaming, “Take down the

[blank’ing] display if you don’t have the [blank’ing] product to back it up!!”

Realizing how pathetic I was, it started to really sink in… just how powerful is this brand (?)

As a woman, I and every soccer-mom I talk to is in (secret) love with Edward (help).  As a marketer, I’m beyond spellbound by this phenomenon.

I’ll probably finish Breaking Dawn… the last book in the series… tonight.  I understand there are more spin-off books coming and the 3rd movie Eclipse is being released in June.

(Sigh.)

HERE’S THE (STANDING O) STICKING POINT:

While J.K. Rowling’s enchanting Harry Potter series spoke to tweens/teens and took the literary world and Hollywood by storm, its ride was pre-social marketing. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga–also targeting tweens/teens–has truly captured the hearts, minds and texting thumbs of this most influential demographic voice of our web 2.0 times.

Beyond that, this gothic vampire love tale has transcended age and bridged every demographic, shattering records and hearts… surprising even its author.  But who could have predicted this epic literary/2.0 combination that’s fuelled an entirely new category of (hungry) consumers?