opinion

Mainstream Embrace

Amanda Chen
Sex is a hot topic all year round, and sex toys are increasing in sales from this ongoing discussion. Sex articles were exclusive to a handful of women’s magazines a few years ago, but are now branching out into all types of media from television to print.

From the famous scene exposing the Vibratex rabbit on the “Sex and the City” series, the rabbit vibe became one of the best-selling products in the industry.

“The Jessica Rabbit has remained our best seller consistently, because the concept and design of the product is now familiar, nonthreatening and mainstream due to the widespread exposure that rabbit vibrators and sex toys in general received off the back of ‘Sex and the City,’” says Hannah Warmington, public relations representative for LoveHoney.

Sex toy companies are now focusing attention outside of the industry to reach the general public in a discussion about sexual wellbeing, bringing out products that can appeal to a mainstream audience. While still discussing the objective of a sex toy, adult novelty companies are stressing the benefits of healthy sexual expression to promote their product.

Liberator has been a staple company for mainstream exposure in famous health and lifestyle publications, being featured in MensHealth, Cosmopolitan and Maxim magazines. Liberator director of public relations Michael Kane says, “Our customer is not wholesale, it is the consumer.”

Jimmyjane products revealed in Vogue, W, New York Times, Bazaar and GQ show that sex toys are receiving attention from the fashion industry as well. Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll said this about LELO products: “These little beauties are so lovely, you won’t know whether to hang them on the wall as art or build an altar for them as the greatest tech breakthrough since wall sockets.”

Sex toys are beginning to be recognized for their artistic design as well as their sensual appeal, making them an irresistible buy for the end consumer.

Moreover, celebrities are becoming the new authority for adult novelty branding. From George Clooney’s sexaddict character in “Burn After Reading” promoting the Liberator ramp, adult novelty companies soon realized that sales dramatically increased when attributed to someone famous. Ethan Imboden, founder of Jimmyjane says, “Kate Moss associated with our products, and now [fashion publicist/reality TV star] Kelly Cutrone is a big fan of what we do — she brought our products on her show and talked about them!”

More and more movies are plugging in sex toys to attract attention. The Astrea vibrating panties were featured in “The Ugly Truth,” the Wet brand of lubricant was featured on “American Pie 2,” the Liberator pad was featured on “Meet the Fockers,” and the Fleshlight male masturbator was discussed on “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” Most of the time adult novelty products are used as comic relief, which takes away the negative connotations associated with sex toys.

This overwhelming curiosity for sex toys has caused manufacturing companies to consider what type of products will grab the attention of new audiences. Warmington remembers, “We piggybacked on the iPod publicity by creating the world’s first iPod sex toy — the iBuzz, but that was a self-created press opportunity. I think if you stay aware as to what’s happening in the mainstream media then you can create your own opportunities.”

Besides following the latest trends, adult novelty companies are also linking their products to an expensive lifestyle. Jimmyjane recently entered Louis Vuitton’s Private Member’s Club in Tokyo, which resulted in the explosive exposure from numerous fashion magazines. Public relations and advertising manager Jill Beaverton says that very upscale boutiques and online shops, such as Kiki De Montparnasse, Coco De Mer and Love Contemporary, are currently selling LELO products.

However, there adult novelty companies face several limitations when promoting their products. Public advertising can only go so far in garnering a particular type of sexual wellbeing.

“To have a product or your company recommended by a mainstream media outlet builds up consumer trust in your service,” Warmington says.

Although sex is still a topic causing giggles, headshakes and blushing, Imboden believes that America seems to be more ready for this type of conversation than they think they are.

“Someone is always worried about what someone else will think, but is personally okay with it,” says Imboden. “When we contact the other person, apparently that person is worried about what the other person thinks!”

The future is looking bright for adult novelty companies with the topic of sex floating across the globe advertising their product in conjunction with a glorious and healthy sexual lifestyle.

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