TechnologyTell

Essay: Porn, Press Releases and Publicity Stunts

Sections: Internet, Movies

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Amour 2: The Adult Version

There was a story in the news this week that Pornhub, the well-known- oh, who am I kidding, you know exactly what Pornhub is- had submitted a TV commercial for consideration for a Super Bowl spot this year, an overture rejected by CBS.

Here’s the ad, which is somewhat hilariously inoffensive and G-rated:

This effort is not to be confused with one two years ago by affair-arrangement website Ashley Madison, which also submitted a commercial for consideration in the Super Bowl and had it rejected, leading to much media coverage.

And that’s just the point. It should clear to everyone that Pornhub had no intention of the ad ever appearing on the Super Bowl broadcast. I’m sure they weren’t willing and probably not able to pay the $4 million price tag of a Super Bowl ad spot. But what the scheme did do was earn the company a huge amount of free publicity. The story’s been all over the news all week, including the likes of Huffington Post, TMZ and Buzzfeed. 

 As has been well-documented, the porn industry is in steep decline, from the exact same reason the music industry fell into decline 15 years ago: Technology has enabled virtually all of its content to go online for free, which has completely obliterated the industry’s business model and left professional pornographers scrambling for any revenue they can get.

Pornhub, a sort of adult version of YouTube- one of many, in fact- is facing its own heavy competition, and clearly saw the Super Bowl “ad” as a way to garner some media attention and break from the back. Political campaigns often do the same thing- “release” a controversial new advertisement and pitch it to the news media, without ever getting around to purchasing ad time.

So we have the Super Bowl gambit. We’ve seen more porn performers jumping into mainstream acting, with Lindsay Lohan costar James Deen only the latest.

Then there’s the gimmick of porn websites making a well-publicized “offer” to a celebrity in the news for a sex scandal-  Kelsey Grammar, Anthony Weiner, Prince Harry and even Casey Anthony have been among the recent recipients- without any intention of them actually taking it.

There was a similar local story this week, in which an Ashley Madison-like website put up a billboard in a suburban Philadelphia neighborhood, leading to public outcries and lots and lots of media attention, including this local news report about a teacher getting her students to write letters urging the billboard’s censorship.

The nadir of this was last year, when one pornographic actress sent out a press release announcing that she would be attending that evening’s NHL playoff game. Not dropping the puck or participating in the game in any way- just attending.

All of this makes a couple of things clear: Writers and editors love being able to write about porn without actually including any explicit content. And people in the porn industry, contrary to popular belief, aren’t stupid. They both help each other, and therefore this stuff ends up in the news all the time.

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  • http://wetmaker.com john

    great idea. i regreat it wasn’t mine