Pleasure Products Ease Into Mainstream Markets

Dan Cameron

You’ll have to forgive Jimmyjane for name dropping … but if the hallowed pages of GQ and Elle covered your products; if luxury retailers like Fred Segal in Los Angeles and Selfridges in London carried your lines; if you had a partnership with W Hotels worldwide; and if the likes of Kate Moss and Dita Von Teese were among your fans … wouldn’t you?!

“Our holistic approach has helped reshape the way that retailers, media and consumers understand and discuss the sexual well-being category, and our early work with everyone from Nordstrom and Sephora to W Hotels and Sony Pictures has been instrumental in demonstrating the founding principles of our company,” says founder Ethan Imboden. “We’ve been aided in our growth by exceptionally diverse coverage in the mainstream press — from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to BusinessWeek and the New York Times, and from TechCrunch and All Things D to ‘The Doctors’ and the ‘Today Show’ — and we’re very grateful for this ongoing support.”

We’ve been aided in our growth by exceptionally diverse coverage in the mainstream press — from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to BusinessWeek and the New York Times, and from TechCrunch and All Things D to ‘The Doctors’ and the ‘Today Show’ — and we’re very grateful for this ongoing support. - Ethan Imboden founder, Jimmyjane

They aren’t the only ones basking in the light. Susan Colvin, president and CEO of California Exotic Novelties, says that the mainstream market and media embrace luxury items more readily. “Since such items are frequently more discreet, female/couples’ friendly and eye-catching, they naturally resonate well with the public. For example, getting product placement in mainstream films and TV like we’ve had with ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,’ ‘Californication,’ ‘The Client List,’ ‘Dallas’ and others is an easier pitch with our more luxurious, higher-end products.”

At sister company JOPEN, they have found great success with the promotion of many collections at several mainstream events. The Key was featured at Perez Hilton’s Pajama Party and gifted to a who’s-who of celebrity guests, while other JOPEN products have been spotlighted at media fairs like Brides, Grooms and Gifts and Products and Press in New York City.

“To support Sex Week, JOPEN products are annually featured at Harvard University. There are many public relations events, articles, interviews and placements that JOPEN has been a part of,” says Brand Manager Robin Stewart. “Intensity, for example was featured on Bethenny Frankel’s talk show, on Glamour and more.”

OhMiBod Founder Suki Dunham notes that her music line vibrators are positioned extremely well for mainstream with the technology angle, iTunes app and design. “The music connectivity has gotten a lot of PR coverage since we started the company. For our new Lovelife line, everything from the packaging — which is playful yet discreet — as well as the price points and designs target a more mainstream sales channel. I remember when Jay Leno closed out his monologue one night referencing our OhMiBod Remote app — that’s when we knew that we were impacting pop culture.”

With a focus on the science of sex, on highquality, body-safe materials and a promise to enhance couples’ sex lives, We-Vibe has gained mainstream media attention and brought new customers to adult stores.

“Our commitment to quality, innovation and sexual health has also won We-Vibe multiple awards and accolades,” says Marketing Communications Manager Denny Alexander, “and led to honors such as being included in the swag bags that go out to celebrities at the Oscars and Super Bowl, being featured in mainstream media such as ‘The Artie Lange Show,’ ‘The Doctors’ or Oprah.com, and being asked to give a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.”

Meanwhile, every single item in the Berlin-based OVO line of personal products has received an Honorable Mention or a win for the Annual Red Dot Design Awards, a prestigious honor bestowed upon the likes of Dyson and Mercedes Benz. “The firstrate engineering and design alone create a capacity for mainstreaming, thanks to the reputably high quality of the product itself,” says Dana DiValli, account executive for OVO North America.

Charley Cook, president of The W.P. Store, LLC — which distributes Rimba and Sylvie Monthulé — notes that Sylvie’s jewelry has been very popular in the naturist resort market.

“It’s a little something one can wear that pronounces a subtle hint about your persona, that clothing might otherwise offer,” Cook says. “Also, it’s non-piercing — and many naturist resorts frown upon the wearing of pierced genitalia jewelry. Sylvie’s jewelry can easily be removed. That leads into another area of interest for Sylvie’s jewelry! We have found many 40-, 50- and 60-somethings that have no interest in getting their genitalia pierced … and are happy to wear an ultra-sexy alternative to get the same look and feel.”

Also crossing over into the mainstream have been products from Bodispa and Nobu Toys, thanks to their “ambiguous use”: “People can buy them for themselves or to give each other a real therapeutic massage in the head, shoulders and back; women can please themselves too with these items, and they wouldn’t be shy to leave them around in their bathroom or bedroom because the packaging is so mainstream looking,” says General Manager Alain Elmaleh. “This helps also when we approach a drugstore chain to sell them, because our products would fit perfectly in their pain-relief section or family-planning section where they sell condoms, lubes or cock rings from Trojan.”