Ryan Thomas, head of sales and marketing for Adam & Eve Pictures, was born and bred in North Carolina, the state where Phil Harvey Enterprises began. Now 41, he grew up in Durham, went to school in Chapel Hill and has been working for PHE for 12 years, eight of them as an independent contractor. Much of his time is spent on the road, working with clients, promoting the company’s movies, both big — like “Grease XXX: A Parody” and “Love Boat XXX: A Parody” — and regular-size.
So you’ve been with the Adam & Eve for a dozen years?
Once Adam & Eve produces a title I then basically make the timeframe of when everything is going to be completed.
I was an employee for the first four years. And then, they basically wanted me to open a California office. I spearheaded the movement to go to California and open the Adam & Eve office, roughly eight years ago. At that point in time they couldn’t have an employee in the state of California, for tax purposes. So at that stage, officially, they hired me as a contractor to continue to run the production office.
How did that work out, your California presence?
Well, after three years, when the economy really started taking a nosedive, we decided to shut the office down in California and move everything back to North Carolina and run everything out of one location.
Is Adam & Eve now your only client?
They were for a while. This past year I’ve taken on some new accounts, just to help other people out.
What do you do specifically for Adam & Eve Pictures?
I set up all their wholesale accounts — everything that Adam & Eve produces. I market through XBIZ, AVN, get the ads put together, oversee how that is done, scheduling all of our movies, release dates. And then, actual sales to the clients, whether it be web-based, retail-based, distributor-based.
Which is the strongest division, from a sales perspective?
I’d say retail. The retailers are willing to work with you a little bit more, and most people, the major retailers, are on direct. So it gives you the opportunity to do more marketing and promotions through each individual chain, depending on their needs and their store layouts.
What about web marketing?
What we do is we put banner ads up on various websites to promote our titles or titles that are releasing. Then we direct those consumers who visit the XBIZ site or AVN’s to when they click that link it directs them back to a branding page, or a product page at Adam & Eve, where consumers can then purchase the product. It’s really, from a web standpoint, placing banner ads throughout various websites for promotions.
What do you do on the production side?
All the movies we produce, I basically do all the scheduling, releasing and marketing of titles for all of our productions. Once Adam & Eve produces a title I then basically make the timeframe of when everything is going to be completed. Then I can get ads created, banners put up on websites and also release dates to get it out to all the retailers and distributors.
You said retail was still strong, does that mean that DVDs are still being bought?
Oh yeah. It’s not at the level it was, say, five years ago, but we still sell quite a few DVDs and deal with a lot of retailers. On the retail side they’re cutting back and converting their DVD sections to novelty sections, but there’s still a DVD presence out there.
Are you involved in selling novelty lines too?
I was when we had our own novelties. Now that Evolved has taken over our novelty manufacturing, they do all the distribution of Adam & Eve novelties.
What were you doing before you hooked up with PHE?
I was a sales rep for IBM. I recruited doctors. I was a purchaser for a chain of soccer stores. So I’ve kind of been all over the place. My previous job before Adam & Eve was account management at IBM.
Did you find that you liked working in the adult industry?
Initially, it was to basically fill a need and pay bills, to be honest with you. And then after traveling and meeting the customers…you know, I think everybody enjoys the adult world in one way or another. It’s just hard when you first start. And 12 years ago it wasn’t mainstream. As these 12 years have passed it’s become less and less of a faux pas and more and more of a lifestyle. Initially, it was difficult for people to have acceptance in the adult industry, but as time has moved along, so have the stereotypes and everything else that was associated with porn.
Adam & Eve has been a positive force in bringing about that change.
That’s the one thing, when I got into the industry, I figured if I was going to work for a company I wanted to work for one that had morals and beliefs and standards that they adhered to. And that’s what they do. Everything they bring in goes through a review process. Every movie they distribute has to go through an internal review and a sex therapist’s review to make sure everything is consensual. The novelty purchases that are made go through committees to make sure the quality is where it needs to be. They do everything the right way. It may take a little bit longer from time to time to get things accomplished, but at the end of the day they’re very successful with the model that they have.
Did you like living in California?
Absolutely loved it.
Do you still make trips to Porn Valley?
I do. I’m probably only home about a week a month. I’m actually shocked that I’m here right now. Whether it be the DVD Expo or the Novelty Expo or AVN or the XBIZ Retreat, ANME, I do every show all the time. And then I visit the various retailers or wholesalers I do business with to make sure that they have everything they need from our standpoint, that we’re not missing any opportunities that are out there.