The Doc Is In

Bob Preston
Doc Johnson makes it its policy to keep up with the Joneses, even if that sometimes means keeping up with itself.

Since its inception in 1976, the adult company has made its name by making sex toys — lots and lots of sex toys. Company representatives estimated its current offerings stand at more than 2,000 toys, making it easily one of the largest sex toy companies in the world.

But how do they do it? The company has plenty of competition in the adult novelty market, and there are only so many ways to mold a dildo. So what’s the secret to its longterm longevity?

“One of our biggest priorities is to continue evolving,” said Doc Johnson’s Chad Braverman, in this case referring to his company’s recent addition of toys built from platinum-grade silicone — the highest quality breed of silicone currently available.

Braverman, who handles product development and licensing for Doc Johnson, told XBIZ that because platinum silicone is the best quality, his company had to start making toys out of it. It was that simple.

At the same time, not everyone is familiar with the ins and outs of the toy industry. Braverman said that he and his team know that when consumers go into an adult shop looking for a good toy, they need to know what’s good and what’s not. That’s where Doc Johnson’s PR team comes in.

Braverman said that the company’s PR team, from a firm called Fifteen Minutes in Los Angeles, has been working to make the Doc Johnson brand a household name, while other company staff members work with adult shopkeepers and tradesmen to make sure consumers know what they’re getting.

Speaking of consumers, Braverman said that when it comes to distinguishing between platinum silicone and tin silicone, his company can trust the consumer to make the right call more than ever.

“Consumers are more intelligent now than ever before,” he said. “They’re reading more online, they’re educating themselves more. If you have a savvy consumer, which I think we often do, then they’re going to know what to buy.”

That trust in consumers has led Doc Johnson to continue rolling out dozens of products, including the Creamy Delights Collection of branded vibes, the Love Bug Butterfly Bullet and the Velvet 1-Touch mini-vibe, among others. Doc Johnson also has forged partnerships with adult companies such as Vivid Entertainment and performers such as Vicky Vette to build new lines of toys built around a company’s brand or from a performer’s anatomy.

When it comes to brand recognition, Doc Johnson has combined creativity with these kinds of partnerships to generate big-time products based on big-name talent. The company’s Jenna Jameson line remains popular, and the term “Pocket Rocket” is approaching the coveted “household name” brand recognition usually only conferred on mainstream products like Kleenex and Band-Aid.

As a novelty company, Doc Johnson also enjoys a friendly relationship with the mainstream, having played a prominent role in the production of a recent episode of the CBS TV series “Rules of Engagement” that called for the characters to host a sex toy party, which naturally called for a visit to an adult bookstore, among other porn-centric scenes.

Jordan Byrnes, part of Doc Johnson’s publicity team at Fifteen Minutes PR, told XBIZ that a CBS set designer contacted Doc Johnson, asking for help in dressing the set. Needless to say, Doc Johnson was only too happy to help supply the episode, which turned out to be the season finale.

“[The set desser] knew that Doc had a variety of product and the capability to deliver on short notice,” Byrnes said. “We supplied an entire store’s worth of product — wall displays, shelf displays, point-ofpurchase displays. We looked at it from a branding point of view, and they looked at it from a colorful visual standpoint.”

Braverman also said that the “Rules of Engagement” episode was a branding success for his company, though he added that when it comes to dressing a set, it’s still a crap shoot.

“You never know what’s going to come out of it,” he said. “You’re taking a chance at getting a great camera angle.”

And CBS isn’t the only mainstream market where Doc Johnson’s made itself known. The company’s brand has appeared on MSNBC, as well in the women’s magazines Redbook and Cosmopolitan. The company has put a good face on a sometimes beleaguered industry by winning awards in Women’s Health magazine, which has twice recognized the company.

But despite Doc Johnson’s size, they still face plenty of competition from the likes of California Exotic Novelties, Tantus, Screaming O and others. Braverman said that although Doc Johnson keeps an eye on other companies, it just keeps doing what it’s doing.

“We have competition in every niche in the market,” he said. “For example, Tantus lords over the niche market of silicone, and I have nothing, nothing bad to say about them at all. They make great products. They laid the groundwork for platinum silicone to succeed.

“You’ll lose the battle if you’re engulfed in what your competitors are doing,” he said. “You’ve got to create products that fill gaps in the market. The onus is on us.”