In the fall of 2012, Crystal Delights — which began its corporate life as a designer of purely digital sex toys for the Second Life virtual world — unveiled plans to release the “Torch,” a double-ended, handmade glass sex toy inspired by Wicked Pictures’ “Spartacus MMXII: The Beginning.” In addition to being a co-branded celebration of Wicked’s Roman-themed opus, the Torch also marked the start of a collaboration between Crystal Delights and the Naughty Tweet Network that has since grown into an ongoing series that has propelled both brands to new heights.
Shellie Yarnell, creative director for Crystal Delights, told XBIZ that the idea for the collaboration grew naturally and organically out of an existing relationship between Crystal Delights and Naughty Tweet, and it is a project that quickly developed strong momentum that continues to this day.
As one might expect from a collaboration involving a company with “Tweet” in its brand name, social networking and viral marketing are key components to the ongoing campaign of co-branded product launches.
“Denise (Kraft) from Naughty Tweet came to us originally on another project about doing a sponsorship,” Yarnell explained. “Denise told us that she was a fan of our products and she thought they would be a good fit for the project and some good branding for us. Of course we agreed to the sponsorship. It was a natural progression to move forward and draw on the working relationship both between Denise, the Naughty Tweet Network and us. Working with Denise was easy. We have a friendship as well as a business relationship that works for all of us. We started by designing a Porn Star Tweet toy, as it was shown, it seemed a natural progression to move towards the Signature Series, star-branded line.”
The collaboration, which has continued with products like Tasha Reign’s Reignbow Pony Plugs, the Jada Stevens Anal Spade and Ash Hollywood’s “Ash Girl” Harnessable Dildo, draws on a combination of star power, social networking and word-of-mouth marketing to generate publicity and drive sales. Thus far, it has proven to be a winning combination.
“It is always good to have as many eyes on your products as possible [especially] when you are a small company like us without big budgets to buy expensive advertising, traffic and elaborate marketing and PR campaigns,” Yarnell said. “What works well for both us and [the performers] is the personal attention that we can give and the ability to offer a custom toy unique to the market. They have a lot of input to the development and final design of their toy as well as the ability to participate in the sales and marketing portion of bringing their toy to market.”
As one might expect from a collaboration involving a company with “Tweet” in its brand name, social networking and viral marketing are key components to the ongoing campaign of co-branded product launches. To encourage maximum exposure and consumer buy-in, Yarnell said that Crystal Delights has done quite a bit of “strategic gifting,” so to speak.
“From the beginning we have followed the saying, ‘If you can’t give it away, you can’t sell it,” and we have given lots of product away for reviews and for contests, to charities and social events. As a result we have been very well reviewed! It has also allowed us to take suggestions from our customers to improve our products or to add additional products to our product lines.”
Of course, as with any truly successful social marketing campaign, Crystal Delight’s social media efforts are about more than just selling products. Creating user engagement relies on authenticity, and the ability to make consumers care about the campaign for reasons that go beyond the desire to purchase, and into the desire to participate.
“Social media has allowed us to focus on the things that were important when we started Crystal Delights; charity, with our colors against cancer line, animal charities from our real fur tails, our simple packaging that doesn’t contribute to excessive waste,” Yarnell said. “These are all things that are very important to us as a company.”
Of course, as Yarnell noted, the success of any marketing campaign can’t be measured in mind-share, exposure or “good vibes” alone. “Social media is about brand awareness but it does also result in direct sales, both from our website and via email with customers asking for special requests,” Yarnell said.
Going forward, Yarnell said Crystal Delights will continue to use the power of collaborative co-branding to push the company to a new level, propelled by the varied and dynamic personalities of the performers they partner with — and by products that are as distinctive as the performers themselves.
“With growing interest in our brand as a whole, and The Signature Series Collection in particular, we are pleased and optimistic,” Yarnell said. “We have had inquiries from as far as Nigeria for toys and have had a fantastic response from numerous media outlets around the world. Part of what makes the ‘Signature Series’ collection special is that all of the toys are as unique as the stars who we’ve collaborated with. We have a double-ended toy, a harnessable glass dildo, and two completely different anal toys.”