8 Feb 2021SpottedPornhub campaign uses sex to sell sustainabilitySPOTTED: the insights behind the ads

Pornhub has dropped a campaign prompting people to adopt sustainable habits and life choices. We explore the insights behind Pornhub’s sustainability campaign, looking at how the brand is taking steps to enter mainstream culture with lighthearted, broad-appeal campaigns that tap into people’s psyche.

Louis TozerLouis Tozer is a senior behavioural analyst on the social sciences team at Canvas8. Trained as a social historian, he has a background in qualitative research, and after an early career spent at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade, he made the crossover into cultural insights. Outside of Canvas8, he can be found down the swimming pool, fixing his bike, or complaining to his friends.

As part of its ‘come together for Mother Earth’ campaign, Pornhub has entered the fight against climate change by encouraging users to donate to 2030 or Bust – an environmental campaign that encourages people to reduce their carbon footprint. Its ‘Sexstainability’ campaign doesn’t end there; Pornhub brand ambassadors Asa Akira and Kira Noir also star in videos offering guidance and inspiration on how to live more sustainably by doing things like minimising water and electricity use. All views that the models garner within a month will be monetised as donations to the sustainability cause. “Combining two things people enjoy – sex and sustainability – made the most sense in creating our ‘Sexstainable’ initiative,” says Noir.

Pornhub | YouTube (2021)

Pornhub is growing from a free porn site into a lifestyle brand, overturning taboos around the sex industry and bringing it into the mainstream. It's doing this by tapping into macro-concerns and leveraging its large user base – which rose during the pandemic by 11.6% on March 17th, 2020, compared to an average day. Through these campaigns, Pornhub is reducing some of the stigma around the porn industry. That said, it's not completely in the clear; in 2020, it was revealed that the platform hosts videos of children and non-consensual sex. Still, Pornhub’s quick response and its socially beneficial campaigns that tap into consumer demands for brands to make a difference show how it's slowly working to remove some of the guilt associated with lust.

Louis Tozer is a behavioural analyst of social sciences at Canvas8. He holds a master's degree in history from UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and was formerly a research assistant at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade. He can often be found in the pub with friends or at Roots Hall, the home of Southend United.