And although we’ve seen encouraging developments in 2010 like the proliferation of parodies, the emergence of 3D and some new celebrity porn tapes, producers are not yet out of the economic woods.
New marketing plans and strategies are more important than ever and some top studios are devoting a lion’s share of time and effort into plans they hope will make 2011 a pivotal year for profits.
Some new moves include a shift to catering to porn for women, international distribution and the continued adoption of new technologies like mobile, social networking, IPTV, and the development of new, more diverse marketing channels.
Adult giant Digital Playground is often viewed as the benchmark company when it comes to marketing porn from its hugely successful “Pirates” franchise that’s spawned a novelty line to its exclusive performer lineup led by superstar Jesse Jane.
Digital Playground Chief Operating Officer Farley Cahen says that his company’s stance as the leader in crossover marketing and branding is set to continue in 2011. “Our attitude is that we are an entertainment company that produces adult material, not an adult entertainment company. This keeps us focused on expanding our brand and extending our presence into mainstream channels.”
The executive’s plans include expanding the presence of its contract stars as well as continuing production and marketing of blockbuster features.
Couples’ films, social media and a more “holistic” approach across all of its product lines are key initiatives for the company, according to Cahen.
“Over the past few years we of course have been very DVD/Blu-ray focused. These are areas that we will continue to concentrate on, but we will expand our marketing and advertising for our growth divisions including novelties and member sites. Additionally, we are exhibiting and sponsoring at more events than ever,” Cahen says.
He adds that the company has always been couplesfocused and female friendly and that will continue. “Being that the company’s CEO and President Samantha Lewis is a selfmade successful woman, we take a heartfelt approach to producing content that resonates with our female consumers. We are fulfilling the needs of both male and female audiences by producing story-driven features with incendiary sexual energy,” Cahen says.
Not new for 2011, but just as important, the company will expand its social media efforts through Twitter and Facebook. Cahen says he knows there’s more he can do and has his team working on ways to develop rich-media viral campaigns to reach more consumers.
3D is also on tap for the studio. Cahen says he has been carefully researching 3D. “We feel the existing technology that most studios are using is less than that which we’d like to deliver to our clients. There are however some recent technological advances that may meet our standards in early 2011. We are also very keen on a number of mobile as well as in-home delivery solutions so that our consumers will be able to purchase once and watch anywhere.”
Though Digital Playground looks to a brighter year, Cahen tempers the optimism with a dose of reality. “I’m confident business will not get easier for most studios. What worked a year or two ago will not necessarily work in the upcoming years. Studios will have to work diligently to fight piracy and the proliferation of stolen material if they want their content to retain any value. Additionally, the economy, contrary to what politicians say, has not yet turned around for most people. Consumers will continue to purchase adult material and products but they will be more discerning in their spending. Studios will have to really examine their target markets and produce good content that consumers will gravitate towards,” he says.
And the company mantra remains — “Porn Worth Paying For.”
Adult’s overall downturn may have actually helped spark some companies’ marketing efforts.
Metro Media has seen a re-birth of sorts over the last few years, spearheaded by General Manager Rick Porras what with the resurrection of the Cal Vista line and the fan favorite Metro Babes. The company is aggressively setting its sights on quality over quantity for 2011, a strategy Porras says is counter to most other studios that have “cannibalized” themselves in recent years with me-too products.
“We’re concentrating our efforts toward showcasing Metro’s high production quality and unique content. Quality is our opportunity for growth and making our intentions clear to the consumer is our primary marketing initiative. We want to attract more consumers, the end users will drive demand from retailers,” Porras says.
Porras didn’t give reveal strategic secrets but said that Metro will focus on new fantasies, shooting styles, talent and perspective. Although men still make up the bulk of Metro’s market, the company is looking toward catering to the women’s market.
“A lot of companies are jumping in on the realization of the importance of the female consumer of porn and it has become a talking point for most studios out there. We have been working to entertain and please our female consumers for years and that will of course continue. At the same time, we have found that men still represent the largest portion of our business right now. Beyond that, our key demographics and psychographics are a bit lengthy to break down, but there were a few surprises,” Porras says.
Metro’s reach to consumers will continue to include unique marketing — an example of which was the targeted marketing campaign for Erica McLean’s “Alice” porn fantasy that included a promotional website, PornHub clips that the company reported were viewed more than 100,000 times in less than five days with a high “thumbs up” rating, and heavy hype from star Sunny lane that included radio spots and her appearance in Baltimore rappers Dirt & Bank hip-hop video.
“The new medium is conversation,” Porras says, pointing out that social networking creates the allimportant buzz needed to sell movies.
Metro also partnered with VOD giant AEBN for promotion and social networking via the company’s XPeeps and PornoTube platforms.
In 2011 Metro will continue to employ these varied approaches to marketing and advertising engineered by what Porras describes as a team of “mainstream ad execs and Van Nuys cowboys.”
Metro’s San Fernando Valley neighbor, Smash Pictures, is looking toward 2011 as a year to branch out and maintain content “exclusivity,” according to company Vice President of Sales and Production, Stuart Wall.
The seasoned executive has been in adult since 1989, seven years of which have been at the helm of Smash. His experience has given him the chops to see just about every trend and marketing strategy in the porn playbook.
Wall says that Smash is focused on fighting piracy (his goal is to “demolish” tube sites) and he points to the company’s work with the Copyright Enforcement Group in the U.S. that Wall says works closely with the Free Speech Coalition antipiracy efforts.
In Europe, where Wall says they are having better success against tube sites, the company joined forces with the law firm of Susanne Dorman & Andre Schecks that’s combating piracy throughout Germany and much of Europe.
“The most important thing in piracy is for a company to copyright its films. We copyright each title now and this is how we’ll stop illegal web activity now and in the future,” Wall says.
And Europe is key to Smash’s future with goals of creating new niche product that delivers the fetish content usually only found on the Internet.
Although it has a strong and growing domestic presence, Smash Pictures is banking on its European distribution as a continued solid foundation for success in 2011, according to Wall. “Our consumer base has always been in Europe. Based on our Alexa rankings and database, most of our clicks and customers searching for our studio are 75 percent based overseas.”
Smash recently inked a deal with Kudeta for a European VOD deal and has tapped U.K.-based Night Mobile for its branded mobile VOD site where fans can view more than 36,000 Smash movies.
Smash plans to keep its competitive edge by shooting new faces and producing niche material along with future volumes to series that have been strong for the company. Wall says that he hopes to achieve this by branching off from shooting typical boy/girl sex scenes and offering specific fetishes.
“Exclusivity. That’s what it’s all about. Hold on to your content because content is king and when viewers know they have to come to you to see a specific type then that’s how you strengthen your studio’s footage,” Wall says.
But Wall also believes that technology will also play a major part in Smash’s marketing plans.
The company partnered domestically with AEBN and created a custom VOD HD theater, a strategy that’s proven to be a “a great relationship.”
He said IPTV — where users can view and watch content from TV set-top box — has already shown promise as a part of Smash’s tech future. “So far we’ve given it a try on a rev share basis in Korea, UK, Belgium, France and in Scandinavia.
Wall said the company will launch a new mobile partnership in November with sexgoesmobile.com.
“I’ll be attending the Venus show in Berlin along with the EroFame show in Berlin. I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting with various clients and hearing what the newest platforms will be for us to incorporate,” Wall says.
More domestic, yet still global in attitude, Elegant Angel’s plans for the coming year include its continued mainstream approach to porn that from a pure visual standpoint includes contemporary style to its box covers and advertising with outstanding photography, clean backgrounds, beautiful font choices, and a simple, but effective design aesthetic, according to company General Manager Graham Travis.
One example was the launch of its “Club 59” lesbian line and website that not only helped the company to diversify but featured a clean, modern style to attract the burgeoning lesbian market.
“Our primary marketing strategy for 2011 is to continue to innovate and deliver an exciting and fresh brand of pornography and product presentation for consumers. We need to continue to set new standards with our box covers and advertising, but, at the end of the day, the best way to market Elegant Angel is to create movies consumers are excited about and satisfied with and that will always be our focus, says Travis.
And if the successful 2010 “Porn Star Superheroes” initiative that included planned series with top stars and its stunning “Superstars” print advertising campaign is any indication of what’s ahead, the company’s strategy is only slated to get better.
And although the executive admits that 2011 continues to present a challenging environment for adult, he believes the company will thrive if they deliver what consumers want.
Travis feels that the content of Elegant Angel’s marketing is the single most important aspect of all of its marketing tools. “It is a continuation of the principles we’ve employed here for many years, continuing to innovate and refresh our brand and product presentation, he says.
It comes down to what we have to say,” Travis notes.
But the message needs to be heard and Travis says that Elegant Angel will continue to embrace technology as it had in 2010 with its launch of a new website and Fleshdrive distribution deal among other developments.
Travis said his plan includes making better use of social networking sites and developing its own YouTube channel. He’s also intent on using portable devices — iPhones, Droids and iPads — not just for content delivery, but also for growing the company’s brand and following.
“I also want to develop more satellite sites and evolve the Elegant Angel blog into more of a multi-faceted ezine,” Travis notes.
Another “Angel,” John Stagliano’s Evil Angel Empire, makes no bones about its plans for 2011.
General Manager Christian Mann, a 31-year adult veteran says the goal is to change the perception of Evil Angel as an adult DVD studio to an adult movie studio serving all platforms.
Mann and company plan to make this happen by expanding the Evil Angel brand to other products, while maintaining its integrity and its association with gonzo and fetish-driven sex.
“We want to grow the online business and prepare for new technology — 3D, smart TVs, virtual sex, etc.” Mann says.
Evil Angel has always been on the forefront of progressive porn marketing by providing complete resources to its B2B partners in every sector: VOD, broadcast, licensing, foreign rights, Ecommerce, mail-order, DVD distributors and adult media/press.
Mann says the effort always included its marketing disc program and B2B website.
“Our partners receive or have instant access to every tool they need to properly promote or offer our products. By automating the delivery of the resources, we streamlined the system: we rarely receive requests for materials because everyone receives them in advance of the movies’ release,” Mann says.
Free DVD samplers for consumers and free monthly posters for distributors devoid of hype and filled with pertinent information including street dates and cover images have been key components of Evil Angel’s advertising plan and will continue.
But Mann says it doesn’t stop there. He adds, “We’re embarking on the migration of advertising focus from traditional forums to online communities. Viral approach dissemination of the message and tipping point reached through carefully planned generation of ‘buzz.’”
And what about the product itself? Mann says any change is contingent on John Stagliano’s discovery of new creative talent and whether or not their product is different or similar to the current lineup. “It’s a decision that gets made based on the porn, not the marketing.”
Taking a slightly different approach to its marketing efforts is adult mega-player Adam & Eve.
Marketing Director Chad Davis says the company doesn’t have a primary marketing strategy but instead uses multiple marketing channels that may have their own distinct strategy.
“We use a wide range of marketing channels and offers. We are willing to test and take risks and to create our own opportunities,” Davis says.
One risk is being taken in 2011 is catalog marketing, according to Davis. He says the company will concentrate more on website marketing emphasizing non-video products. He points to “segmentation/ personalization for email and paid search marketing” as his most important marketing tool.
As far as productions are concerned, the company is still in the game. Adam & Eve Pictures’ big-budget, interactive production, “Killer Bodies,” starring Tori Black, Teagan Presley and Alexis Ford was set to begin production at press time.