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Updated by Simon Frankum on Feb 24, 2014
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5 things sustainable business could learn from the adult entertainment industry

5 things your sustainability program can learn from the adult entertainment industry. Feel free to add your suggestions, or see more stuff like this on www.2degreesnetwork.com

5 things your sustainability program can learn from the adult entertainment industry

First off, yes, this article is safe for work. Secondly, no, I'm not going to suggest you include more provocative photography in your annual sustainability report. But, there's a lot we can learn from the adult entertainment industry.

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Intro

Intro

Despite its, um, interesting choice of content, the US adult entertainment industry brings in close to $12 billion annually, about the same size as the GDP of Iceland. One estimate places the global industry at close to $100 billion. Adult entertainment has been immensely successful, comprising nearly 25% of all internet searches, with millions of viewers each year.

Of course, as any advertiser will tell you, sex sells. Clothing brands have known this for a long time and even a few less sexy products like tire valve caps have gotten in on the game. Now, I’m not suggesting you use racy pictures to hawk solar panels (please don’t). However, an industry as successful as this one deserves a bit of investigation to see if there are some lessons we can extract and extrapolate to sustainable business. So here are 5 lessons that might surprise you:

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Don't be afraid of technology

Don't be afraid of technology

The adult entertainment industry has long been at the forefront of using technology to hawk its wares. It was an early mover into the internet and e-commerce, and is often credited with driving the growth of VCRs. The industry doesn’t necessarily create the technologies, but it is a master of finding creative ways to use the technologies to drive growth. You can now access adult content through VHS, DVD, streaming, your mobile device, twitter, Tumblr, etc.

How you can apply this:

If you’re still talking about sustainability via a paper report or even a downloadable PDF, think about ways you could enliven the information. Instead of just a report, why not think about doing a video to tell the story from a different angle.

More ways here

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Get to the heart of the matter.

Get to the heart of the matter.

Not that I’ve ever seen one, but I’ve heard that adult films they are generally light on plot. Similar to a Michael Bay film (Transformers, Pearl Harbor), plot is simply used as a device to carry the viewer between, well, action sequences and provide a quasi-believable story that links everything together.

How you can apply this:

When you’re talking to managers in your company, does your sustainability presentation involve a science lesson, stories of poor orphan children, and a conversion story akin to that of Paul? Stories are incredible tools, but too many of them, and your message gets confused. When you’re talking with managers, get to the heart of the matter quickly. Make sure that the benefits, and the asks of their time are clear and up front.

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You don't always need to be original

You don't always need to be original

You don’t always need to be original. Adult films notoriously offer us the same plot device over and over again (pizza delivery, sexy teacher, etc.) or steal from TV and Film titles (Forrest Hump? Really?). Yet, people continue to buy them. Why? Because of the different adult stars and techniques involved that differentiate one title from another.

How you can apply this:

Don’t worry about the creative, worry about how it’s going to get done. Bottom line, your sustainability strategy won’t be that much different than everyone else’s (energy efficiency, waste management, water management, etc.).

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Weird sells

Weird sells

There are adult sites catering to literally every conceivable niche—from people who like to dress as furry animals to those who are in love with inanimate objects. The industry has clearly taken the long tail theory of selling to heart. Not only does the industry supply content to meet these needs, it has also often created online communities to help people find others with similar interests.

How you can apply this:

Your energy manager doesn’t experience sustainability in the same way as your lead product designer. So why are you talking about sustainability in the same way with each of them? Think about finding ways to help various departments customize their sustainability programs.

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