Execs of the 2017: The Year’s Top Branding Strategies Revealed

Execs of the 2017: The Year’s Top Branding Strategies Revealed

XBIZ Premiere is pleased to present its annual “Execs of the Year" special issue.

A successful enterprise is often known for its leaders who become known as the face of the company. Brand ambassadors are a rare breed of individuals that is gregarious and champion their brand at every turn.

The work I do face-to-face with our distributors and retailers is an important part of my job, and I value attending regional conferences and shows. -Conde Aumann, Account Executive, The Screaming O

Each of the executives we spoke to below has one thing in common — they are among the finalist nominees for Brand Ambassador of the Year in the retail industry edition of the 2018 XBIZ Exec Awards.

What branding opportunities were the most beneficial to your company this year?

Cheryl Flangel
Brand Ambassador, Pipedream Products

“Our Pipedream Products family of brands is well-known and well-loved. For our company personally, we have created a number of brands that ideally matched current events that arose this past year. Prostate massage for health came to the forefront with consumers, and our brands such as Anal Fantasy and Sir Richard’s were able to offer products that people were looking for. Gender-neutral intimate products also gained prominence this year, and many of our brands — Fetish Fantasy, Icicles, King Cock, Classix and Basix, to name a few — are neutral, giving our customers an opportunity to be prepared for the latest trends. I think our advantage is having a team that has the foresight to see what trends are ahead of us and how to properly brand our products to fulfill consumer needs.”

Eddie Romero
Director of Operations, Vibratex

“The most beneficial branding opportunities for Vibratex and the Magic Wand have come from partnering with several mainstream media channels. As the mainstream consumer market continues to become more accepting of intimate toys in everyday conversation, we have been able to create opportunities to have Vibratex and/or Magic Wand featured in a variety of different segments. To have the readership of magazines such as Time, Shape, Glamour and Cosmopolitan see a feature that includes an item from the Vibratex line or the legendary and iconic Magic Wand reinforces the connection to the brands and drives that consumer confidence. Building the connection between consumers and the brands has been fueled by not only having items recognized and backed, but featured on a nationally televised series such as “Not Safe with Nikki Glaser” on Comedy Central. When HBO aired the “Sex and the City” episode that featured the Vibratex Rabbit Pearl in 1998, it built an emotional connection between viewers and the brand; they wanted to connect with that character, they wanted to experience what Charlotte had experienced. This continues today, but only now, on a much greater scale and a much more open mainstream field.”

Frank Kok
Sales Director, Kiiroo

“There have been several branding opportunities we, Kiiroo, have taken advantage of this year. At the beginning of 2017, we decided to license our Kiiroo Technology to leaders in the adult industry. Since doing so, we have created several interactive devices Powered by Kiiroo, and we have implemented our interactive technology and mobile applications on a variety of content platforms. By licensing our technology, we have not only forged new partnerships with brands and platforms such as We-Vibe, OhMiBod and Pornhub, but we have also strengthened previous partnerships with partners such as Fleshlight and Flirt4Free. Strengthening our partnership with Fleshlight gave us one of our bestsellers to date: the Fleshlight Launch Powered by Kiiroo that debuted at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March 2017. This helped us make our mark in the mainstream media as a powerhouse sex-tech brand. We have been able to reach more customers than we were previously able to, which in itself, has branded our company in a new and stronger light — not only in the adult industry, but outside the industry too.”

Conde Aumann
Account Executive, The Screaming O

“For me, branding is about providing a personality for our company — and the best way to do that is in person. The work I do face-to-face with our distributors and retailers is an important part of my job, and I value attending regional conferences and shows. It’s always great to meet customers at these events, as personal engagement really is good for everyone involved. Potential and current retailers can see that Screaming O isn’t some distant corporate entity; we’re real, we’re human, we’re here to support you. And in return, being present with our customers allows me to get a pulse on what’s happening and to understand how real people are responding to the products we introduce.”

Robin Stewart
Brand Manager, Jopen

“One of our biggest branding opportunities is with products that are trending online. With that, I mean products being talked about online — especially those on mainstream outlets. Our products are being talked about all over the place, and we are seeing tremendous opportunities from it. Consumers are coming into stores asking for JOPEN products by name; this is huge and makes retailers want to stock more JOPEN items. We’re also seeing increased traffic to our website, which helps spread the JOPEN message even further. The more people talking about us, the better.”

Jack Morocco
Channel Manager, Crave Innovation

“Crave has taken a number of initiatives this past year to spend more time with our customers. The expanded conversation is part of our broader mission, and the feedback has been invaluable. It’s really helped us understand our customer base so we can continue to design sensual products that genuinely appeal to our users in both elegant form and uncompromising function. We’ve used this feedback to improve upon our own products as well as expand our portfolio; as such, our reputation for luxury and quality continues to build around this positive response.”

Kerin DeFrancis
Director of Sales, Doc Johnson

“Our Tryst brand is very successful for Doc Johnson for many reasons. Tryst was featured in Cosmo, which is a household name — and that really helped to take it to another level. We were able to use this feature and produce POS signs for our retailers, created banners for our online customers to really help give it a focus. In addition, since Tryst is a unique item, we also produced easy-to-understand position guides as well as lovely acrylic displays for our retailers. Once you see the possibilities and feel the different functions, you need to have one! Tryst was a major focus for us, and with these branding opportunities, it’s been a huge hit.”

Benny Neff
Account Manager, Blush Novelties

“I feel the best branding opportunities for Blush were the face-to-face interaction with consumers, retail stores and distributors. While print and online advertising are important, relationships are everything to us. Getting into the stores, talking with consumers, store workers, managers and the sales teams of our distributors has been our priority. We honestly care, and I believe that’s what sets Blush apart.”

Janet Rini
Sales Executive, NS Novelties

“NS Novelties is a brand I am so fortunate to be a part of. We strive for a true collaborative bond with all of our customers, cultivating our long-term relationships and educating distributors and stores on the attributes of our collections. Most beneficial branding opportunities to NS Novelties have certainly been the various industry and distributor events we are invited to as well as the exclusive store trainings we are asked to attend. I find the more we showcase our line in front of our customers and their sales force, the more enthusiastic they become with our advanced and diversified line of products — and therefore, the more momentum we gain. NS Novelties has had a tremendous year of growth due mainly to the support and trust of our valued and dedicated customers. And we truly look forward to a successful 2018.”

Marco Tortoni
Brand Ambassador, FT London

“2017, for FT London, has included participating in numerous B2B exhibitions worldwide, visiting and training our distributors and retailers, and promoting our product line in magazines and on socials. Informing our distributors and retailers who have decided to promote and sell our products is a very important aspect. Also of great importance to us is our worldwide customer service and supporting retailers and end customers by e-mail or phone. The work of a brand ambassador is very challenging, and it is particularly enjoyable thanks to the majority of people that work in the adult industry and the fact that the products I represent are of the utmost quality and innovation — as well as to having a very capable CEO: Jack Romanski.”