There was a billboard in Times Square this week that only lasted a few hours, but it had the internet talking the moment that it was, um, erected. The story behind the billboard is as interesting as the billboard itself.
We should mention that the billboard was for PornHub, the website that claims to be the largest repository of free pornography available. As you could imagine it would be hard to advertise this website in Times Square. Over 300 thousand people walk through Times Square on a regular basis and some of them might not be cool with seeing an ad for pornography. Rather than lean on their internal teams to think of something G-rated and safe for work, Pornhub turned to their users, which visit the site at a rate of more than one and a half million per hour.
Opening up their biggest marketing challenge to their audience at large was a brilliant idea on three fronts. First, the battle of “safe for work” and “pornography” is as Sisyphean a challenge as we could imagine. Second, they chose a platform off of their website to promote the contest. Firewalls and parental blockers may block PornHub, but they probably don’t block Tumblr. Third is that Tumblr, as a platform, is inherently sharable. Each of the three thousand entries into the contest becomes its own socially sharable piece of advertising.
Take a look at the biggest marketing challenges facing you and find a way to incorporate your audience into the challenge in a fun and engaging way that makes sense for your company. When you’ve found your solution, trumpet the people who helped make it happen. Show your community that you not only value their opinions, but you’re willing to give them credit for being the driving force behind the idea.
The final chapter of this story is that the PornHub billboard was removed less than 24 hours after it was put up, arguably giving it more attention than it would have otherwise received.
No more Pornhub Billboard in Times Square 🙁 pic.twitter.com/hBH3fZvkz5
— Pornhub Katie (@Pornhub) October 8, 2014