Why Infomercials Are Fast Becoming the Adult Industry's Best Friend

Last Updated May 13, 2010 4:01 PM EDT

Trojan is running a late night cable TV ad for the "Trojan Vibrating Touch," which is exactly what you think it is. And they're using a faux infomercial format to do it, with bright lights, pastel colors, upbeat music and consumer testimonials. The only thing they don't do is describe or show exactly what the product does.

Advertising has long been accused of helping the adult industry go mainstream, and now the infomercial, or direct-response TV ad, is the preferred vehicle for this. Infomercials -- with their built-in sterility and wholesomeness -- are fast becoming the preferred way for America to talk about the sale and consumption of sex.

In part, it's because the format -- fully clothed consumers address an interviewer and enthusiastically describe the product's benefits -- allows marketers to communicate messages about sex without actually showing any sex, or indeed mentioning the word "sex."

Trojan isn't the only brand that has tried this. Extenze started advertising this way, and still does. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)'s KY brand doesn't use the direct-response format but it is advertising in mainstream venues. And although the Better Marriage Blanket isn't a sex product, it does deal with the kind of bodily functions previously banned from mainstream advertising and uses the "But wait! There's more!" format to get around stating the obvious.

Meanwhile, the porn industry's advertising continues to become more mainstream and sex-free. Pornographers never used to advertise because the boxes on the shelf of the video rental store did all the sales work for them. Now that consumers can download movies for free, adult industry companies need to actually market their products. That's why Canadian X-rated pay-per-view channel Amour created these hilarious, safe-for-work commercials showing performers attempting to read lines and act, no nudity involved.