Q&A: E-Cig CEO Talks Porn Advertising
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — As porn continues to make headway into mainstream films, TV shows and books, it’s also beginning to open doors for products that traditionally don’t hawk sex as a selling point.
Case in point is the recent introduction of XXXVapor.com and C11MEDIA — companies that have taken a bold step to meld the vapor e-cigarette craze with adult content.
And it’s not just slapping on a few racy photos to spice up the product. The initiative has a full-blown marketing campaign with adult film clip contests, star tie-ins and site development, sexual enhancement products, and unique non-adult add-ons to bolster the appeal of the new products.
The forward-thinking approach may be the forerunner of more companies combining the power of porn with more mundane products, especially those that have a bit of a taboo edge.
XBIZ picked the brain of company CEO Joshua D. Berkowitz as to the impetus behind the company, the porn/mainstream strategy, and the future of the two maybe not-so-strange bedfellows.
XBIZ: What prompted the idea to market vapor products with adult?
BERKOWITZ: That’s a great question because our intention with XXXVapor was to create a business model that allowed us to market our mainstream products inside of adult. The decision was made for several reasons including my extensive adult marketing experience and a demographic study, which showed our ideal potential clientele within this market vertical. We realize there is significant obstacles to market successfully within adult, however with our focus mainly on wholesale we have seen great success. At the root of our business we are essentially a marketing company, which allows us to leverage our unique resources within the industry to create marketing campaigns that are truly unique.
XBIZ: Are vapor products your primary business? If so, how long have you been in it and with what companies?
BERKOWITZ: Vapor products are the focus of most of our business however we are launching a branch of our media company (C11MEDIA) that will handle branding and development for select performers in the industry. We own several other mainstream vaporizer companies including South Beach Vaporizers (SoBeVaporizers.com) and are wholesale distribution company WorldWide Vapor Distributors in addition to our XXXVapor brand. Through my partners and myself we have more than six years of distribution experience in the vapor market. Our mainstream products have done very well and this is the investment group’s first entrance into niche brand marketing, which we are all thrilled has been a great success.
XBIZ: Have you been involved in the adult industry before? If so in what capacity?
BERKOWITZ: Yes, I have done everything from production to marketing. Most notably I was business intelligence director for a large penis pill manufacturer at which I was deeply engaged in the advertising and direct sales channels that we operated. As for the production work, I am also a professional photographer and have been shooting content for myself as well as other notable names in the industry off and on for nearly 10 years.
XBIZ: What was your first step in melding mainstream with adult?
BERKOWITZ: Interesting question. There were several first steps if I remember correctly. We looked at it from the “sex sells” perspective and our first step was hiring talent to shoot both softcore mainstream acceptable content as well as edgier adult content. As it stands right now we straddle borderline of adult and what we refer to adult glamour. With shoots scheduled in June you will see higher end glamour content with notable industry names that takes our initial marketing conception to the next level. From the business standpoint our first step in entering adult was to come up with a notable brand mark that conveyed our marketing approach while maintained a balance of consumer acceptance when out in public. Our XXX logo was the culmination of a lot of work and research and I personally feel we hit the nail right on the head.
XBIZ: Did you focus on a particular demographic?
BERKOWITZ: Our primary demographics are male smokers (tobacco and herbal) 20-35 for which the adult market is well suited. With the launch of the Swarovski [crystals] series and our vibrator attachment we are looking to satisfy both the novelty market as well as bring in something relatable to female consumers.
XBIZ: Do you see “taboo” products like tobacco easier to combine with porn?
BERKOWITZ: Yes absolutely, “taboo” products already have some stereotype associated with them making it easier in the consumers’ perception to cross into the adult market. However, at the end of the day sex sells and we believe with a solid approach many types of products can be marketed within adult.
XBIZ: Did you go for “star power” or just overall appeal?
BERKOWITZ: We will be launching campaigns this year with very notable namesin the industry and actually have just taken a pause for the last 30 days fromproduction to reorganize our campaigns. We are excited to have Mrs. Vanessa Veracruz join us, as she will be organizing many of our shoots in LA. Her reputation and connections within the industry have allowed us access to talent and locations that will make our upcoming campaigns really stand out.
XBIZ: Was the use of Swarovski crystals done to appeal to women also?
BERKOWITZ: Yes, we realize we appeal to mainly male market however our retailers have a large female consumer base. With that in mind we developed several products aimed directly at appealing our female friends. The Swarovski vaporizers make a great gift and are popular with our TS friends as well. On the other hand our new vibrator attachment is directly aimed at the female market and it promises to be a great novelty for retailers.
XBIZ: Any pushback on mixing hardcore products (videos/photos/toys) with your products?
BERKOWITZ: That’s hard to measure. Since we don’t push out a lot of hardcore content (in terms of BG or even much GG) it’s hard to get a handle on what the impact has been. However our marketing strategy and this brand is sold only to adult distributors and retailers, in this market there has been a great amount of acceptance rather than pushback.
XBIZ: Are you using the vapor products as a gateway to other porn?
BERKOWITZ: We are using the vapor products for multiple projects we are developing simultaneously. In conjunction with our sister company C11MEDIA we are developing an adult model branding company at which we will also be leveraging our production resources to create content for our clients. This is a long-term project that we have begun with Vanessa Veracruz but promises to be a significant business in and of itself. What I feel we bring to market is the branding and merchandising experience that the adult market has seemed to stagnate in. Our resources and capital allow us to bring the same level of professionalism that we executed XXXVapor with to the models we decide to work with. It’s worthwhile to note that all the projects we will be launching inside the adult market all go towards supporting our main XXXVapor brand from one perspective or another.
XBIZ: Why did you choose Veracruz as a spokesmodel?
BERKOWITZ: There are dozens of models that have approached us, some with huge names, others fairly new. We choose Vanessa for several important reasons. First, Vanessa is very experienced in the industry with more than three years of GG production under her belt and to top off a stellar career, she has an unbelievable reputation in the industry. Vanessa’s business acumen was also a major factor. Too many of today’s models are in it for the short-term satisfaction, however with Vanessa both our long term goals merged very well. We look forward to helping create the Veracruz brand as much we do the XXX Vapor brand. Then, of course, there is the fact that she is incredibly beautiful and interacts heavily with her fans.
XBIZ: Do you have other products in the pipeline? If so will they also combine adult?
BERKOWITZ: The thing that really sets us apart from the competition in my opinion is our ability to bring novel products to market quickly. With that in mind we have just launched the worlds first performance enhancement e-cigarettes available in both male and female versions, the world’s first vibrator attachment, and we are in the process of creating wireless charging stations that are molded like a pair of breasts and one like a booty. We have several other adult only products in development however at this time I can’t state exactly what they are.
XBIZ: Were the products launched without adult before?
BERKOWITZ: The XXXVapor brand was launched only in adult, however we own and operate five other vaporizer companies which are all mainstream and have seen great success.
XBIZ: Have you seen successful sales with the adult addition?
BERKOWITZ: We have been very lucky to be so well received. Strong sales to retailers and large distributors coming online within the next 45 days go to support the assertion that our marketing angle works. Since our focus is mainly wholesale, sales are easier to make in many respects since retailers are looking for new popular ways to increase revenue.
XBIZ: What’s the one-word (or more) rule or key to marketing mainstream with adult?
BERKOWITZ: I would have to say “focus.” When we launched XXXVapor we had little intention of crossing over to mainstream advertising channels. This complete segmentation means that we focus our efforts on appealing to the adult market consumers without the distraction of trying to make the product and marketing fit within mainstream rational.