A "Wicked" Change for the Better

Bob Johnson
Being able to turn on a dime and create new revenue streams usually applies to small companies that have somehow latched on to a hot product or star. Once the buzz is in place these companies can then outsource manufacturing or production and take advantage of the frenzy while it’s still hot.

But the adult industry’s a bit different. Even the big names have the ability to change quickly because of the intimate nature of the business and because much of what’s considered “hot” is consumer-driven.

“Star power” has made some production companies successful over night. Girls like Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey have become franchises in their own right and have spawned incredibly lucrative businesses. They’ve also made substantial amounts of money for producers savvy enough to market their content quickly.

And other stars that may not have the instant notoriety but are still perennial fan favorites often become the backbone of a movie company as contract stars. The recognizable “name” studio and the star create a symbiotic relationship that benefits both, and is often a smarter long-term strategy.

Wicked Pictures is a prime example of a well-established company with a very recognizable brand that reacted to the recent market downturns by diversifying and adjusting its strategy using its stars and frankly, some marketing “balls.”

Instead of resting on its laurels as a big-budget production house known for a strong stable of stars and glamorous feature movies, Wicked instead decided to augment its bread-and-butter film productions with new products and ramped-up consumer marketing.

XBIZ caught up with Wicked president Steve Orenstein at a recent adult conference where his company was the obvious standout among adult producers when it came to making changes and adopting a more progressive strategy.

On display were the new Wicked RealDolls – love doll likenesses of Wicked Girls Jessica Drake and Alektra Blue that were unveiled in January.

Orenstein made a point of pointing to Wicked’s new products as a major part of its marketing initiatives aimed at bolstering any shortfalls in traditional DVD sales. “The girls are the biggest draw for any company. We have long lines for our stars when they do signings of any kind. But we realized that our marketing strategy and product lines have to expand in order to maintain the excellence of the brand and to stay competitive and in the consumer’s mind,” he said.

The impetus for the Wicked RealDolls may have come from the company’s cyberpunk feature movie “2040,” where director Brad Amstrong used RealDolls as androids in the film, but the bottom line is that Wicked took the necessary steps and decided to create a new product line using its brand and star power – a move that at the very least put the company in the consumer spotlight.

Armstrong said, “I went down to their [RealDolls] showroom and I was amazed by the quality and vision they brought to the table. I thought there must be a way for Wicked and Real Doll to work together, joining the best in adult entertainment with the best in doll manufacturing. I pitched Matt McMullen, the owner of RealDoll, on the idea of putting together a Wicked RealDoll line, and the rest is history. We’re incredibly excited to bring the Wicked Girls to life in doll form and let their fans enjoy them at home.”

The collaboration between Wicked and RealDoll benefits both companies. Wicked gains a new product, and RealDoll adds a major studio to its client roster – a win-win for both companies and another method of staving off economic downturns.

Ornstein said, “The folks at RealDoll have always been leaders in their field. I believe the Wicked/Real Doll partnership will be a huge success. Bringing the star power of the Wicked Girls as well as other top stars in the industry together with a new generation of dolls using RealDoll’s latest technology is a sure win.”

“The first 2 real dolls just launched only three weeks ago at the AEE show and were seen for the first time. It is too soon to know how profitable they will be, although they were met with a great deal of interest. I’m confident this was a good move for us but it’s too soon to quantify,” Orenstein added.

But the creation of a product like Wicked RealDolls doesn’t end with the manufacturing and marketing of the hard goods. Consumers who opt to purchase a Wicked doll will find links on the RealDolls site that directs them to the star’s Wicked Girl website. Cross marketing at it’s best.

RealDoll owner Matthew McMullen shares Orenstein’s enthusiasm. “Working with a high profile company like Wicked, which is known for setting industry standards, will enable me to take RealDoll to a whole new level. With our initial release of licensed RealDolls based on Wicked’s entire line up of amazing contract girls, I feel that we have introduced a new era in the adult entertainment industry. And with Wicked Pictures now acting as our liaison to the adult industry, we are actively seeking additional talent to add to this exciting line of RealDolls,” he said.

McMullen added, “With three decades of proven customer satisfaction and cutting edge entertainment between the two companies, the Wicked Dolls are sure to have a huge impact on the two industries.”

Small or large, companies bent on surviving the challenges of downturns, technological piracy and plain old competition need to shake up their thinking. And sometimes that means reaching out to what at first appear to be strange bedfellows.