As a social worker with a father who has been in the adult industry for more than 40 years, it made sense to me that Pornhub.com would offer donations to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Pornhub.com might have just wanted to create a buzz knowing Komen would reject this money given their conservative rep (see Change.org petition), or perhaps they were capitalizing on the fervor around breast cancer awareness in what’s called “pink washing.” It could be either reason, but I would like to believe that Pornhub.com smartly engaged in an effective cause-related marketing campaign around an issue they care about. It might seem surprising that Pornhub.com would do this but many corporations use cause-related marketing tactics to make their customers feel good about buying products and improve their corporate image. A good example is Tom's Shoes. They give a new pair of shoes to a child in need with every pair of shoes purchased. It’s simple: it helps kids, makes people feel good about paying a little extra for sneakers and created a profitable company. And, good causes are in need of the investment to accomplish their goals, especially since government and foundation funding only goes so far.
For the adult industry, aligning with a good cause just makes good business sense. As we recover from bad economic times, this article points out people no longer want to mindlessly consume and seek out brands that hold values similar to their own. People want a better way to spend their dollars and the adult industry can take advantage of this trend as the perfect way to better position themselves with customers. They need an edge in an increasingly competitive porn marketplace where consumers’ excess income is now saved and not spent.
Giving to important causes would not be a big leap for the adult industry since there is a history of pairing advocacy with their corporate interests. Since Playboy’s beginnings, the Playboy Foundation has supported First Amendment rights, reproductive health and AIDS projects. Adam and Eve's President Phil Harvey created DKT International, a non-profit organization dedicated to family planning and AIDS prevention around the world. I also saw on Twitter that Wicked Pictures created #teamwicked in preparation for the Aids Walk LA.
There are others outside of the porn world trying to capitalize on this idea of pairing porn with promising causes too, like Marco Annoni and Riccardo Zilli, co-founders of Come4.org. In a recent article, Annoni and Zilli state, “We devised Come4.org, as our way to rethink pornography with ethics and to launch a new sexual revolution in the Internet era." The adult industry should take notice of this effort and let it be a warning; you should not let others reshape what you know best.
There is so much more that the adult industry can do to help important causes like AIDS/HIV prevention, breast cancer, violence against women, reproductive rights, human trafficking and addiction. The adult industry should care about these issues and I challenge them to take up these causes in greater number. Making a move like this will even increase the bottom line and change their image.