With Sales Up 263% in Quarantine, This Sex Toy Is Encouraging Everyone to Stay Home

Its marketers also say they're doing their part to alleviate tension

Billboards for the Womanizer sex toy are now live in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. WOW Tech Group
Headshot of David Griner

It’s rare to find business success stories in this era of global quarantine, but here’s one you might not have seen coming: Sex toy sales are skyrocketing.

While a Los Angeles Times article this week cited sales increases ranging from 30% to 100%, the makers of one product say they saw a 263% increase in year-over-year March sales in the device’s key market of Canada, with American sales up 152% compared to March 2019.

Rather than bask in the afterglow of such a sales explosion for its Womanizer vibrator, WOW Tech Group is stepping up its advertising across Canadian cities with a message that’s good for client and consumers alike: “Stay home.”

The product’s billboards, designed by Toronto agency The Garden and launched in collaboration with retailers Stag Shop and SexxxPlus, are relatively subtle in the sense that they don’t directly call out that the device is a vibrator.

Or at least they’re subtle by comparison to last year’s perfectly written Womanizer billboard, which Adweek named one of the best ads of 2019:

A Canadian sex toy ad is displayed on a billboard facing a popular highway.
WOW Tech Group

Created by the same agency that made the “Scream Your Own Name” out of home, the new billboards are currently posted in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The Garden’s creative team saw the new campaign as an opportunity to encourage Canadians to embrace voluntary quarantine, even if it meant not always getting to embrace others.

“It’s so important for nonessential workers to keep their social distance right now,” said Lindsay Eady, associate creative director at The Garden. “We saw a fun opportunity to get that message across in a tongue-in-cheek way with a brand whose main focus is self-care. Front-line workers are going out into the world and risking their lives. The least we can do is stay home and masturbate.”

"Front-line workers are going out into the world and risking their lives. The least we can do is stay home and masturbate."
—Lindsay Eady, associate creative director, The Garden

Planning for the campaign was handled by Cairns Oneil, with media space donated by Astral, Branded Cities, Outfront and Pattison.

Like many brands, WOW Tech Group also has a charitable extension of its campaign. For each Womanizer Premium device sold, the company will donate $10 to the YWCA COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Community Resilience Fund.

The Womanizer’s marketers also feel they’re doing their part to alleviate tension in a cultural moment of uncertainty.

“It’s vitally important that Canadians stay home in order to flatten the curve, and the Womanizer can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that comes from being cooped up inside,” said Stephanie Keating, head of North America marketing for WOW Tech Group. “And we’re so proud to be sending a portion of sales of the Womanizer to support vulnerable women and children affected by the coronavirus.”

Title: “Stay Home”
Client: WOW Tech Group with Stag Shop and SexxxPlus
Head of Marketing, WOW Tech Group: Stephanie Keating
Agency: The Garden
Creative Director: Shane Ogilvie
Strategy Director: Shari Walczak
Associate Creative Director / Art Director: Francheska Galloway-Davis
Associate Creative Director / Copywriter: Lindsay Eady
Business Lead: Mike Kovacs
Studio Director: Jamie Morren
Media Agency: Tim Hughes, Cairnsoneil

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@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."