Football Transforming

Manchester United’s entering a new era…slowly. Despite their lacklustre performance over the past two seasons, their brand hasn’t suffered, with Bloomberg highlighting that this year they were the first soccer club to reach a billion dollar valuation. The power of their brand is further accentuated when you consider that they didn’t qualify for the UEFA Champions League last year, an important competition for international fan engagement.

Digital Soccer

Manchester United – like all sporting organizations of its stature – is run like a business. And like a business, they understand the importance of capitalizing on new, emerging trends. Negotiations between the club and digital transformation partner HCL Technologies began at the turn of the year, and in September they were finalized. The deal is the biggest of its kind, with Manchester United hoping that the partnership will see them demonstrate best practices within the industry. 

Although the club has somewhere in the region of 600 million fans worldwide, decidedly few will ever attend a match. This means that their use of digital will have to exist outside of the stadium’s walls, otherwise only a tiny percentage of them will experience what the the HCL partnership has to offer. Anant Gupta – President & CEO, HCL Technologies – made it clear that Manchester United’s digital transformation would be far-reaching: ‘This partnership is unique and creates value not just for Manchester United and its fans, but also for all forward-looking organisations across the world’.

The finer details of the partnership weren’t discussed at length when the deal was unveiled, but there will be a ‘United Xperience Lab’, which will gives fans the opportunity to engage with the club in new ways. According to HCL the lab will offer ‘a multi-layered framework wherein human intelligence and psychometrics, interface with next-gen technology to create intuitive and smart Digital solutions.’

Manchester United aren’t, however, the only club in English football to recently announce a partnership with a digital transformation agency. Last year’s Premier League winners, Chelsea FC, announced that they would also be embarking on a similar project, just a day after Manchester United did that same. They too want to use the initiative to further expand their international presence, with the hope being that that Wipro will be able to push the club’s fortunes in their native India.

With two of English football’s most successful and wealthiest clubs looking at digital transformation, it’s clear that they feel that it will have an important strategic impact on their respective fan bases. Time will only tell if such partnerships are possible with less lucrative clubs, but like the adoption of analytics, it could eventually become a mainstay within all professional clubs. 

Now, we may have the questions how to apply it to the national teams. Because, we see a clear ahead…not only for big nations which are suffering in the beginning of the FIFA World Cup.


Nadal Tips and Tricks

Nadal just won Roland Garros again. As Rafa prepares to return serve, he’s so far back beyond the baseline that he’s almost out of the camera shot. At times, perhaps even into a different area code. But Nadal summons the strength to return hard and high, pushing his opponents back. By the time they connect with their second shot, Nadal has moved forward onto the baseline ready to attack. It’s a tactic Nadal has used more and more over the past year, mostly on clay and here at Roland Garros.


Call him a trendsetter. Look no further than Alexander Zverev, Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafa’s opponent in the French Open final come Sunday, Dominic Thiem, as players who have followed this trend. But this isn’t about trends. It’s a winning strategy.

‘If Nadal stands up in the court, in the traditional position around the baseline, then he has to deal with the normal power of the serve, which can create errors,’ Craig O’Shannessy, a strategist for Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the ATP Tour. Being that far back, it’s nearly impossible for Nadal to consistently return the ball deep into his opponent’s court, but that hasn’t affected him the way traditional tennis suggests. Matter of fact, through March, Nadal hit more returns (31.8 percent) in the service box than anyone in the then-top 20. It doesn’t matter,” O’Shannessy said. “He has the ability to hit it deep, but he’s not. But what he does is, he gets so many in. He hardly ever misses.”

At this year’s French Open, Nadal has won 43 percent of the points on an opponent’s first serve, more than anyone else. On second serve, when he stands closer to the baseline, he’s won 57 percent, tied for 12th. Nadal is first in return games won, with 44 percent. The key is the rate at which Nadal makes his way back to the baseline and into an attacking position. ‘It really works for him,’ O’Shannessy said. ‘Nadal hits higher with spin, and he’s got depth because the guy is strong. For others, though, the strategy might not be so effective. Players such as Thiem (36 percent of first-serve return points won) and Monfils (40 percent) are fast enough to match Nadal’s speed toward the baseline, but the less mobile players would be better off standing closer to the baseline on returns. Del Potro, who generally stands deep, won just 29 percent of points on his opponent’s first serve this season, tied for 51st on tour. And you probably saw how that worked out for him Friday at the French Open. Del Potro failed to break Nadal, while Rafa broke him five times.

So far, no one seems to have figured out a way to combat Nadal’s return strategy. Yannick Noah, the last Frenchman to win a Grand Slam title, at Roland Garros in 1983, told CNN that perhaps a little trickery would teach these deep returners a lesson.‘I would serve underarm every time and hit only drop shots,’ Noah said. ‘And if he’s at the net, I’d hit it at him. You have to try something.’ While standing so deep effectively rules out the ace down the middle — the No. 1 spot for aces in the men’s game — because the receiver has so much time to make the ground across the court, it does open up the wide angles for the servers, or so you’d think.

‘If you are legitimate about winning the match against Rafa, you have to try something,’ O’Shannessy said. ‘I saw Novak [Djokovic] in Rome where he did a slow serve-and-volley out wide. It works great. With every single strategy in tennis, there are counterstrategies.’ Mats Wilander, a three-time champion at Roland Garros, said players would continue to copy Nadal until someone shows how to conquer it. ‘They’re doing it because no one is serve and volleying enough,” Wilander told ‘I would do the same if I knew no one is going to serve and volley. It’s not a bad idea, but I do think certain players shouldn’t do it.

Another point to underline here. Tennis players always say that repetition is key, to train you doing the perfect gesture all the time. Nadal says that this is important but, at the end of the day, the ball never comes in the same way…so you have to rely on your capacity to improvise.

Tricks and Improvisation…


Bend it like Uncle Drew

At first glance, the movie looks like another fancy summer comedy. The cast is impressive and appealing. There’s a sense of escapism along with a healthy dose of slapstick. ‘Uncle Drew’ may be all of that. It is also the continuation of a corporate marketing campaign for a soda company, Pepsi Cola not to name it. An unusual integration of branded content and film, the movie is built around the N.B.A. star Kyrie Irving and is based entirely on a series of Pepsi commercials that went viral beginning in 2012. A heavily made-up Mr. Irving plays Uncle Drew, a septuagenarian driven to show up younger basketball players on the playground. He sets out to reunite with his teammates from decades ago for one more run at the Rucker Park tournament in Harlem. The audience might not realize or care that they are watching what is essentially a Pepsi commercial. Academics, meanwhile, believe “Uncle Drew” is the first feature film of its kind, taking product placement one step further in a new avenue for branding.

The release comes at a crucial time for Pepsi. Soda sales have declined steadily in the last years as consumers have become more health-conscious. PepsiCo results came flat in the final quarter of 2017, partly because of decline in North America and constant heavy competition from Coca-Cola. In short, Pepsi needs to tap new audiences for its product, and “Uncle Drew” is, as Rohit Deshpande, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, put it, “another salvo in the cola wars.”

The “Uncle Drew” story begins in 2011, when Mr. Irving, then a 19-year-old newcomer to the N.B.A., agreed to appear in a Super Bowl promotion for Pepsi. Afterward, Pepsi’s agency partner, Davie Brown Entertainment, and Mr. Irving conceived the idea of a geriatric but skilled character. Pepsi executives obviously wanted to shift away from traditional advertising and build a strong storytelling. Product placement has also been an integral part of the film industry with many famous features films. With Mr. Irving’s character, Pepsi hopes to extend its brand while entertaining viewers at the same time. ‘Everyone has so many marketing methods coming at them so often that it’s tough to break through,’ said Lou Arbetter, the general manager of Pepsi Productions. ‘You want to create things that people actually want to see.’ This is in line with recent research showing that consumers have grown increasingly wary of traditional advertising. Beth Egan, an associate advertising professor at Syracuse University claims, “Millennials especially are really keen to have a relationship with brands, but that has to be a true, authentic and two-way relationship.”

Uncle Drew

In preliminary findings from a recent study led by Ms. Egan, when subjects were exposed to branded content, prominent mention of the brand increased viewers’ suspicion of the messaging. So how do you mostly remove the brand but keep the association?

Pepsi filmed several videos, written and directed by Mr. Irving, featuring cameos from other N.B.A. names, including Mr. Irving’s then-teammate, Kevin Love, and the retired Hall of Fame center Bill Russell. The Pepsi logo wasn’t conspicuous other than a “Pepsi Max presents” at the beginning and some shots of spectators drinking Pepsi. The commercials were a huge hit (more than 51 million views on Pepsi’s You Tube page for some of the videos). The campaign benefited both parties in an organic way. Fans often yell his character’s name at him during games, and the talented athlete’s popularity has translated into marketability. ‘There’s a strong association now between Irving, ‘Uncle Drew’ and the Pepsi brand’ Mr. Deshpande said. Fans of the shorts included the producers Marty Bowen and John Fischer from Temple Hill Entertainment, who approached Pepsi about spinning them into a film. Mr. Irving was on board. Executives at Pepsi agreed to pay for a screenplay by Jay Longino.This was just another chapter in how to bring the brand’s story to life,” Mr. Arbetter said. “Nobody has done it before, but I would venture to take a guess that this won’t be the last time.” Principals involved with the movie insist that while the film may have originated with a company best known for its soda, the integrity of “Uncle Drew” as a film is genuine.

‘I would say that we would be pretty foolish to view this as a two-hour-long commercial,’ Mr. Arbetter said. ‘I think that would not do the brand any good.’ Well, everybody believes that the story is strong enough to stand on its own. The feature film version is an extended, fleshed-out version of the original commercials. If the original shorts went out of their way not to blast the Pepsi brand, the movie takes a slightly different way. The opening credits say the film was made “in association with Pepsi.” The Rucker Park scenes show various iterations of the brand logo surrounding the court. Mr. Kroll’s character, the villainous coach of a rival team, gives a shout-out to Pepsi during an interview with ESPN.

For the film industry, will this unexpected partnership lead to more such deals? There is an emerging reality. In an era when Netflix and Amazon have become prominent players in content creation, ‘a good idea can come from anywhere.” There is, however, at least one potential downside for Pepsi when “Uncle Drew” is released. This movie is going to run in theaters where they serve Coke.

(Extract/Adaptation from the article from Sopan Deb for the NY Times)

Madrid Royal Purpose

Real Madrid just won their 13th Champions League, an absolute record in the competition period. Sure, people will keep on singing the same song, they will continue to say that Real Madrid have plenty of good players (I let you judging the role of their captain Sergio Ramos in the final) and a lot of money to get the best players. Yet according to Columbia Business School MBA professor Steven Mandis, the author of the book ‘The Real Madrid Way’ that explores the culture, business practices and personalities behind the club, these are small blips in a long-term strategy and deeply held philosophy that underpins the club’s current commanding position at the top of Spain’s La Liga and status as defending European champions. Mandis, a former Goldman Sachs top executive, spent two years investing the Madrid business and interviewing the club’s most senior executives to come up with an explanation for their success that goes beyond the cover pictures and the articles of transfer fees. Mandis interviewed over 20 Real Madrid players, coaches and directors during the course of his research and consulted the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Moneyball guru Billy Beane and Roma president James Palotta. He argues that the Real Madrid model is not simply competing with rivals in the transfer market to sign a star-level “galáctico” every summer, but of what he calls an “economic sport model” that begins and ends with the Madridistas — the ordinary fans who literally own the club as community members or socios. “People don’t realize how the whole thing is intertwined,” Mandis talks about.

Real Madrid

“They’ve built a sustainable economic sport model and that’s really important because unlike Chelsea or Manchester City, there’s nobody to bail it out if it loses money () It’s more than a coincidence that society-owned teams Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona do as well as they do from a financial perspective. Club presidents have to run their teams based on what their fans and communities want in order to be reelected. ” When Real Madrid president Florentino Perez first stepped into the role in 2000, one of his first actions was to draft the club’s first ever mission statement to reflect the values of the socios who had elected him. And he is commonly characterized by an interesting history of record-breaking signings and managerial sackings. Yet Mandis, whose previous book ‘What Happened to Goldman Sachs’ argued the investment bank’s diversion from its founding values led it to scandal, argues that while such events may leave the impression of turmoil, Real Madrid have in fact rarely deviated from the company culture — one that includes both “the aspiration to have the best Spanish and foreign players within its ranks” and “complying with the very highest standards of good corporate governance” — outlined in the mission statement. That has helped the club continue to increase its revenues while developing a more sustainable and profitable business. “Look at Steve Ballmer from Microsoft” says Mandis. “This multi-billionaire from the corporate world, buys the Los Angeles Clippers and one of the first things he does is he writes up the Clipper Credo [the franchise’s mission statement]. And Florentino, a very successful businessman in construction, said the first thing we’ve got to do is introduce a culture. “Because they both realize that in a successful organization everybody knows what the mission is and what the rules of engagement are and it makes life a lot easier.

Florentino’s genius was to recognize that with a consumer-driven product you had to be as close to those values as possible for those fans to have the passion and loyalty to buy the jerseys, to show the sponsors that they were loyal. That’s really what drove the purchase of the star players. It was the identification of ‘let’s go to those people, find out what they’re most interested in, what they value and start there.” We assume that Zidane will keep on delivering the right thing after this amazing and historical record. But he may be the king right now but he will have to seduce and involve the supporters to last even longer.

Rapper’s Luxury Delight

Cardi B and Anna Wintour. It was this unlikely front-row pairing that got the fashion flock buzzing at the latest American designer Alexander Wang defile. After all, the seat next to Wintour, the most powerful figure in fashion, is usually filled by fellow magazine editors, industry chief executives, Hollywood stars — even royalty. While Wang has long been a fan of hip-hop, the placement of the 25-year-old female rapper speaks volumes about how the wider fashion industry has changed its stance on hip-hop, which, in December, surpassed rock to become the most popular music genre in the US. “It’s important for this generation and the next generation to see people that look like them or that inspire them, because fashion isn’t just for the elite any more,” says rapper A$AP Rocky, well known for his sense of style as he is for his music. “Fashion is for everyone and the more you try to exclude people, you’ll find out that those are the same people you need to include the most.” Over the past two years, more than a dozen luxury brands – including Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs – have featured hip-hop artists in their advertising campaigns, while brands like Versace and JW Anderson have taken things a step further by collaborating with artists like 2 Chainz and A$AP Rocky on products.


This was not always the case. For many decades, hip-hop was seen to be brand-diluting for major luxury houses, who dismissed the growing power of street culture. When Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day opened his boutique in New York’s Harlem in 1982, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Fendi, whose lawyers were not amused by his extravagant designs emblazoned with signature logos from their brands and sold to influential rappers, athletes and street hustlers, swiftly sued him. “In the early days it was devastating, I was attacked constantly,” recalls Day. “They felt that I was infringing upon their brands, but all I was doing was making a statement. You can go on forever about what the line is between appropriation and aesthetic creation.” Nowadays, certainly, hip-hop is a powerful tool for reaching Generations Y and Z, who are expected to account for 45 percent of the global luxury spend by 2025, according to Bain & Company.

“It’s a way of reaching young kids that usually would not take an interest in high-end fashion” agrees Kris van Assche. The recently appointed artistic director of Berluti previously spent 11 years as artistic director of Dior Homme, which dresses several hip-hop artists, including A$AP Rocky, Big Sean and Future (these rappers have also made regular front row appearances at Dior Homme’s runway shows). “Hip-hop artists are storytellers and news reporters of the times, [and] with hip-hop being the number one music genre, it proves that hip-hop artists drive culture,” says stylist and fashion consultant Aleali May, who has worked with popular rappers including Kendrick Lamar, Lil Yachty and 21 Savage. “Fashion is paying more attention to its consumers now more than ever,” she adds. “The old way of thinking is out the door and, in order to attract the next generation, there needs to be an analysis on what’s driving the consumer.”

But as a “millennial state of mind” takes hold across society, changing the purchasing habits of all generations of consumers, hip-hop is not just about courting the youth. From teenagers lining up to buy the newest Supreme products to traditional luxury customers to the designers themselves, the music of Kanye West or Drake is now resonating with a wide slice of people regardless of their demographics. Indeed, hip-hop now accounts for almost a quarter of all music consumption in the United States, with eight out of the 10 most popular artists of 2017 from the genre, according to Nielsen Music. “Hip-hop in particular has always been an important influence in my life and my creative process,” says Alexander Wang, whose sportswear aesthetic has long attracted rappers. “I continue to be inspired by the genre as it evolves and touches all levels of society and forms of culture today.” Content creation aimed at feeding the all-important social media feed is a big piece of the puzzle. “I would say 90 percent of my artists have their own creative directors, videographers and editing teams [that] get content out that day. That’s the secret sauce,” says Tammy Brook, founder and chief executive of FYI Brand Group, a brand strategy agency that for the past 17 years has connected companies with influential cultural figures, including rappers. But as with any dialogue, it was not just the fashion industry that warmed to hip-hop. Rappers, too, have shifted their stance on the industry and the liberalization of the hip-hop scene was key to the shift. “Hip-hop going mainstream happened a bit earlier, but it became more inclusive quite recently — it used to be exclusive and macho,” explains Fischer. “You now have everyone from queer rappers to female rappers and the market has become a lot less homophobic, which has also led to a lot more hip-hop artists feeling more comfortable with embracing fashion and vice versa.”

“That’s where the partnerships come in,” says Matthew Henson, who has been working with A$AP Rocky on the rapper’s fashion business (AWGE) since 2013. “Some artists offer a unique and valid point of view and can contribute to the overall growth and creativity of a brand. Designers are always inspired by music, art and social movements so if they align with a particular musician, then they collaborate there as well.” And as much as fashion brands are leveraging hip-hop, rappers are using fashion houses to build their personal brands. But it needs to be authentic, says Brook. “The first thing [rappers] have to do to blow up in the fashion world is love fashion, this can’t be fake. You have to know about it and be part of the culture and community. “Second thing is, you put them in a room with the Anna Wintours, the Carine Roitfelds and you get them to a point where they’re credible enough and on the radar,” she continues. “Once they’re in the room, they’ve got to create a real connection that’s direct, because when designers decide who they’re going to put in their campaigns, it’s going to be the ones they really feel the connection with,” emphasizes the brand strategist specialized in collaboration between artists and luxury brands.

On the staying power of hip-hop’s influence within the fashion industry, Fischer says: “This is the new reality. [Rappers] are going to be the most influential brands in the future and if you want your brand to have any relevance with a young audience you need to embrace this, and you need to make it a general part of your strategy moving forward.” He pauses before adding a word of caution: “But shoppers smell bullshit, so the minute it’s perceived as a marketing thing, it’s not going to work.”

Manga Soft Power

When entering a bookshop anywhere in the world, one can look through the comic’s section and find American and sometimes European comics as well as a very wide range of manga. Manga have had a great influence on worldwide culture and can be found in many content-related creation. American and European comics have also had an influence on Japanese culture. But the Japanese comic culture created a huge and loyal fan base and has influence many different authors to write Japanese style content. The rise of popularity began during the 1960s with the importing of the manga Astro Boy. By 2012, the anime market worldwide increased to a value of more than $10billion. It rose constantly since then in a big way.


Looking at the appeal of manga and anime (type of animation from Japanese culture), this can be because of the comics books produced in the world were mostly toward men. Manga is geared towards men and women because it has multiple genres and covers many different topics. For instance, there can be manga about love relationships, supernatural adventures, actions adventures and many more (one famous manga is dedicated to wine helping the domestic market to boom significantly). The consumer base is much larger and diversified. Anime has become one of the best resources nowadays to tell stories in an animated form, with freedom of expression in any genre and for any audience, which contrasts against traditional cartoons which are generally aimed at children. Another popular aspect of anime is the unique art style, characters generally sporting big eyes and unique hairstyles. Western countries have also developed series using that particular style. Anime gained success in other countries when early series such as DragonballAstro BoySailor Moon, and Slam Dunk aired. There are many people who started to become interested in Japan after watching some of these shows. Sometimes, they are even inspired to learn Japanese. The early 1990s served as what was known to be an “anime boom”. Due to this, anime culture further evolved when anime conventions started taking place – large gatherings that may take place over a period of days, in order for fans of anime and manga to show their passion and dedication. These have even incorporated industry talk panels where voice actors and anime creation staff can meet at the event to talk about their shows, and fans can have a chance to meet them. Fans can also gather to buy merchandise and try “cosplay”. The term “cosplay” is derived from the words “costume play”, and it is when fans dress up as their favorite character from a series and impersonate that character for the day. Cosplay is not restricted to anime but has also crossed over to western characters from comics, cartoon series, Hollywood movies and video games. Another influence on America would be the debate surrounding manga being taught in American schools. Adam Schwartz discusses the idea that manga is multimodal to readers and can be greatly influential in the literacy of youths. Manga has words as well as graphics and this can be important for youths that learn best visually. It explains that since manga has a multi modal literacy, people are more drawn to it as content.

Japanese Content

The opinions of manga in America were stereotypical at the start of manga. A study for people born in the 80s and 90s showed that when students were asked about manga and animation content, they believed that it was associated with child pornography and violent content. A study then asked people of recent times what they thought of manga and the same stereotypes weren’t present anymore. Many countries have found certain communities that are very loyal and dedicated. The manga fan culture show that followers develop a strong identity and feel accepted within the group. The popularity lends itself to the digital community that enables fans to strengthen ties with people all around the world that enjoy the same thing.

Some authors discuss in their creation about the concept of “soft power”. This understanding is the idea that Japan exports authentically Japanese content but imports content from other countries. Japan is able to slightly change their content to be popular worldwide and contain western things while still having Japanese values and ideals. For instance, manga artists create characters that appear relevant to a broader appeal, but when it comes down to values present, they will still have strong values and philosophy specific to Japan. It shows the power of culture and influence to infuse the world with specific stories…without losing your unique identity.

Market the Unmarketable

“[The adult industry] is an industry where they exaggerate the size of everything.” David Klatell, ssociate Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, claimed in 2001. It seems that we have the perfect headline here.

Adult entertainment is now reported to be worth $100 billions dollars. Despite global revenue dipping circa 2007, mostly owed to the amount of free material available on the web, the x-rated industry makes up 69% pay-per-view Internet content. We must admit that the adult-oriented industry has benefited massively from a shift in general consensus and opinion worldwide. More so than ever, people are craving for authentic content and the younger audience is ostensibly more liberal than the previous generation. Nevertheless, the x-rated industry doesn’t have the luxury of being able to publicly showcase widely their offerings (most of the platforms don’t allow any suggestive content on their feed). How does a company that embodies and profits from one of society’s biggest taboos translate its adult content into something that entices people, whilst remaining on the good side of an increasing business?

Pornhub, the largest porno platform in the world, has the most impressive stats with almost 100 billions videos viewed in 12 months. More than 60 million visits, per day. Over 4,599,000,000 hours of videos digested. 729 visitors per second over came to have a look through the last decade. That all has built its brand name up with tactical advertising, philanthropy and, in turn, has landed itself featured in popular culture – arguably blurring the lines of this already opaque industry when it comes to mainstream advertising. Pornhub Vice President Corey Price notes, “For us, it’s really just about making ourselves visible in unexpected places. The goal with a lot of what we do is to make [the adult industry] a part of conversations that it typically hasn’t been, like we’ve done with music, fashion and philanthropy, for instance.”

Give People What They Want

Using consumer data in am=n entertaining way is damn effective. People know what they like and, when you know what they like too, you can serve your product in a way that is enticing. Pornhub has unexpectedly become a leader in delivering data-driven pieces of content and campaigns, overcoming the potential shortfalls of incognito browsing and ad-blockers. Running a successful micro-site like Pornhub Insights have allowed the brand to demonstrate detailed research and analysis into current trends, geo-localization preferences and drill down into segmenting its audience and understanding exactly what they like. “Our data blog PornHub Insights has played a major part in this. We utilize our data and trends to make interesting SFW (safe for work) content that people love to read about and share. The media, and in turn our readers, have really responded well to it over the years, and it has been a great way for us to create conversations about our brand in a SFW and sharable way.” A great example of how Pornhub cashed in on its audience’s interests were with the birth of PornHub Records. Simply put, the brand saw its audience liked rap, so they started a hip-hop label. Pornhub launched a national song search contest, offering up $5,000 to make a music video that would be placed on Pornhub TV, with a minimum of 500,000 views – guaranteed. The contest received submissions from rap featuring mature lyrics, right through to what has been dubbed as “erotic folk.” The overlap between Pornhub and the music industry has been ongoing for years, with artists such as Xiu Xiu and FaltyDL debuting clips and music videos on the website, accumulating nearly 73,000 views in the space of 8 months.

Everybody Likes A Laugh

When advertising in the adult industry, you often have to skirt about your product offering, and this usually comes in the form of humor. I mean, if you can’t talk about it, you may as well laugh about it? Humor generates word-of-mouth marketing: “did you hear about the April Fools stunt [brand] pulled?” or “did you see that advert [brand] put out? It’s unbelievable!” This dialogue is invaluable for marketers and helps establish a positive brand reputation. Hero content and campaigns don’t need to scream “adult industry”, in fact, they don’t always need to scream “we offer this service and we’re the best”, sometimes being subtle is enough to generate a buzz and get your brand name out there. Having an x-rated brand in a regulated industry picked up in the mainstream press is an achievement in itself, partly owed to Pornhub’s knack for creating and distributing stand-out advertisements and content that remains family-friendly and ethical.

Interesting Partnerships

Brands in regulated industries can almost “marry into” the mainstream by striking up unlikely partnerships. Finding a mainstream business to partner with something x-rated is a big portion of the battle, but once that’s overcome, the results can be mutually beneficial. Eat24 is a fast food delivery app and website, serving over 1,500 cities in the United States. A few years ago, in its infancy, Eat24 began a partnership with none other than Pornhub. This risky move by Eat24 landed its adverts on the Pornhub console, largely due to Pornhub offering cheap advertising spaces, as it’s quite a niche site to be featured on and the incomparable amount of traffic the site consistently generates. Research conducted by Eat24 found that in the top 100 sites visited in America, a number were in the adult-industry. The unorthodox move worked in Eat24’s favour, as the advertisements on the site featured on the front-page of the overly critical Reddit’s /r/advertising subreddit and gained coverage on many websites. Not only was this a huge success for Eat24, but it also allowed Pornhub to receive mention and coverage on the Eat24 website, a predominantly mainstream business in an incredibly mainstream industry.

From alcohol to tobacco, gambling to the adult sites, regulated industries tend to innately have an unfavorable reputation. This isn’t usually reflective on the specific brand itself, but is rather a predisposition that is age-old and reflective of the past and attitudes gone by. In regulated industries, it’s easy to be deemed irresponsible, offensive or influential (and not in a good way). The adult industry is more than accustomed to this. Tackling these perceptions is often done using philanthropy, promoting an external cause that generally seeks to improve the welfare of the public or the planet. A prime example of this is Pornhub’s “Give America Wood” campaign. Behind the mischievous title, the cause is dedicated to planting 1 tree for every 100 videos viewed.

The PornHub Cares content is filled with a continuous stream of philanthropy causes, from offering scholarships worth $25k, saving pandas or offering sex education to the young. These charitable campaigns are meticulously thought out and presented, often having little in common with Pornhub’s general branding. These campaigns are a far cry from the adult industry’s general offering, yet are an effective way to produce ethical content that resonates with a wider audience. The idea that an industry that is usually perceived as “bad”, can use its worldwide publicity to do something “good” is a step to change pre-conceptions.

Be Bold, Not Boring

Having to comply with rigid rules and restrictions can often deflate marketers. Having to jump through certain hoops to have any content or campaign aired can become monotonous, however, something that Pornhub can teach is that you don’t have to be boring. You can still be bold: it just requires a little more thinking. Pornhub launched a campaign named “Sexploration.” The purpose of the fundraiser was to raise money so the company could direct and shoot its first ever space scene; an ambitious and bold idea for any brand to execute. Despite seemingly failing to raise the costs to cover this space-endeavor, Pornhub massively profited from the campaign and nearly every major media company worldwide covered the mission, gaining PR traction that even a hefty budget would struggle to achieve.

Taking a leap of faith and executing an idea that might seem a little too “out there” has the potential to organically generate unparalleled word-of-mouth and PR benefits.

It is possible to market the unmarketable. Promoting x-rated companies and businesses in a regulated industry is possible with ethical, SFW tactics, as market-leader Pornhub has continually demonstrated through its 10-year history. With data on your side, humor in your copy, friends in high places, an empathetic team in your office and bold ideas on your drawing board, you can build a global perception for even the most NSFW company….suitable for (almost) everybody.