How Pornhub became an unlikely champion of creativity

It might be known for its naughty videos, but adult entertainment site Pornhub has built a reputation for subversive yet purposeful creative campaigns that piggyback off its notoriety

Pornhub is a surprising creative force at the moment. For a company whose sole purpose is peddling smut, it gets an awful lot of attention for activities almost completed unrelated to adult film. In recent years in particular, the company has earned headlines in the press not just for progressive campaigns, but for supporting young, and often marginalised, creative talent through its Visionaries Directors Club initiative.

“Here at Pornhub, we love getting involved in different facets of the community, and our creative campaigns have helped us do just that,” Pornhub VP Corey Price told CR over email. “We’ve worked tirelessly to penetrate a number of verticals, ranging from fashion to music to philanthropy, which has ultimately helped us bring the brand in front of the general public.”

It’s easy to snigger at Pornhub – particularly when they’re talking about penetration – but Price’s words ring true. The site easily achieved secret infamy, but what’s interesting now is how it’s using creativity to trojan horse its way into the cultural conscience. And what’s also clear is that its efforts are only becoming more sophisticated over time.

Back in 2015 when it hit the headlines for its ‘wankband’ wearable – which harvested user’s energy ready to recharge phones or tablets – it was easy to shrug off. But in the years since Pornhub has honed its approach, and tackled everything from taboos around women having sex while on their period, to endangered sperm whales and the world’s declining bee population. Even unsexy topics, such as older people catching STDs, hasn’t been off limits. Some of these projects have come about through the Pornhub Cares initiative, which was set up to further the brand’s philanthropic work after the success of its Save the Boobs campaign in 2012. Price says it’s a chance for Pornhub to give back as well as “flex our creative muscles”.

“There is a big difference between Pornhub the adult site and Pornhub the brand,” he says. “While we we will always be known as an adult entertainment company, people are increasingly thinking of us as the company that also churns out witty, creative campaigns or philanthropic initiatives to benefit those in need. Our campaigns have helped us garner mainstream recognition, which has ultimately catapulted us to the forefront of discussion. What’s especially rewarding is that now our industry is more accepted, we’re also becoming a channel and topic through which brands are trying to reach consumers.”