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Brief Published: 17 Aug 2016

Pornhub Markets to the Mainstream

Our Unadvertising report looks at brands that use ‘meta-marketing’ techniques to engage jaded consumers by ironically exposing the mechanics of the marketing process. Adult entertainment site Pornhub has long been adept at marketing in this way: “Bad Acting, Terrible Scripts. You’ll Love It” reads the tagline to one of their ads.

Where many businesses use marketing to create an identity that’s edgier than competitors, Pornhub is an interesting example of a brand that’s aiming to take a ‘taboo’ subject mainstream. It must therefore find clever ways to stay ‘suitable for work’.

The company’s blog, Pornhub Insights, is used to communicate compelling stories pulled from internal data. This month it explored how recent superhero movie Suicide Squad affected searches on the site (unsurprisingly, the movie’s release coincided with a 1072% search increase for the title on Pornhub). It’s a smart way to repackage the ‘behaviour’ of its community to generate attention.

Over the past two years Pornhub has branched out into wearables, cause marketing, scholarships, and Kickstarter projects. The brand’s strategy is aimed at “push[ing] the conversation to the general public as something that’s acceptable to talk about, while letting people know that watching porn shouldn’t be an underground activity that’s to be seen as shameful,” according to Pornhub VP Corey Price, speaking to social media monitoring platform Brand24.

There’s a lot to learn from Pornhub when it comes to tackling risky subjects in imaginative ways. We’ll be exploring this subject further in our upcoming report Brands Take A Stand, part of the next Stylus Macro Trend.