Meet the L.A. Agency Behind Pornhub’s Hit TwerkingButt Video

Viral experts take on first adult assignment

The L.A. social media advertising agency Vendetta Studios was recently thrust onto the ad world's radar because of its work for a less than traditional client: Pornhub.

The online porn giant was revealing its first consumer product—the TwerkingButt, a collaboration with the adult toymaker, Topco—and Vendetta snagged the assignment to produce an introductory video. The agency delivered an absurdist, faux-documentary sensation that drew more than 1.5 million views in the first few days it was live.

"We never thought we'd get into that business," David Lehre, who founded Vendetta in 2006, told Adweek. But he and has team—10 employees, all under 30—were happy to take on the potentially controversial client and treat it like any other brand.

"From the beginning, the idea was to take kind of a traditional production company like us and blend that with the adult world where mostly they used porn directors," he said. Vendetta is a full-service social media advertising company that specializes in viral videos, and it boasts a healthy roster of traditional, big-name clients like Cadillac, Coke and American Express.

Lehre takes seriously Vendetta's goal of delivering successful viral videos. With the Pornhub assignment, he recognized that the product itself was outrageous, giving the agency a good starting point.

"I decided we should make [the video] appear really serious—epic and majestic to start, then slowly we take it into 'wtf' area," he said. "The key to making it viral was the it's-so-serious-this-can't-be-real quality about it. That's what gets people talking and starting a dialogue. Getting people talking is one of the keys to making viral videos."

He would know. Lehre's first video went viral before the young filmmaker was old enough to vote. Nearly a decade ago, MySpace reigned supreme. Lehre, now in his mid-20s (and a bit cagey about his precise age), capitalized on that zeitgeist with a MySpace parody video called Myspace: the Movie, which he released on YouTube. An 11-minute short film of topical, humorous, irreverent and slightly prescient entertainment, that, by his count, has been viewed 60 million times on various host sites.

Lehre launched Vendetta armed with confidence from his MySpace movie success, and the shop doesn't just create videos for clients and send them off into the abyss, hoping for viral success. It ensures the content is not only relevant and well produced, but also well placed. For Coca-Cola, Vendetta created a branded video featuring Jason Derulo that aired on American Idol and was introduced by Idol host Ryan Seacrest.

Of course, pageviews and shares mean nothing if the bottom line doesn't budge. "They've gotten so many sales for this thing, and it's really changed the direction for their company," Lehre said of his successful work for Pornhub.

You might call it a happy ending.