If you've been driving around Los Angeles lately, you may have noticed a billboard showing a cartoon cucumber imploring you to #stopvegetableabuse by buying real sex toys at Hustler Hollywood. It's all part of a multi-platform ad campaign for the adult entertainment publisher, and it's all completely safe for work.
To further promote the campaign, Hustler Hollywood released a political parody video online on April Fools' Day (in which everyone is fully clothed and no one is sexy) asking people to stand up for the rights of eggplants and squash. It's also giving away stickers, condoms and buttons with the campaign slogan and selling limited special edition #StopVegetableAbuse shirts at its locations.
We talked to publisher Larry Flynt about the campaign, what makes it "safe for work" and how digital is affecting the adult entertainment industry.
Adweek: Tell us more about this Stop Vegetable Abuse campaign.
Larry Flynt: It's pretty clever, right? I'd like to take credit for that, but I think it was one of the staffers who came up with the idea in the rough. I really thought we had something there. I think it was more of a smile and wink sort of thing. In my 40 years of businesses, I think it's one of the most clever campaigns we've ever had, and we're looking forward to seeing how the results are.
Do you think that for a lot of adult entertainment to resonate, you have to appeal to the mainstream?
You're probably right on that. What was culturally accepted 30 years ago, today is passé. Thirty years ago, the adult business was pretty much a man's business. A man would go out and buy a film by himself. Men and women want to watch together at home now. That was a real phenomenon culturally to see that happen.
Do you think that's a good thing for the industry?
I think it's good. It makes people talk more about human sexuality, and communication is key.
How has the digital industry really changed Hustler?
It's changed dramatically both on the publishing side and the broadcast/Internet side. Digital is definitely the way of the future.
We do promote the idea—I know it sounds sort of old fashioned when I say this—to [be] free. I think that's promoting a healthy attitude towards sex.