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  • Writer's pictureStu Nugent

Lovense, Sex Toy Marketing, and How Not To Fuck Your Social Media Up

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

The cursor blinks against the neon white of a blank page; virginal, awaiting input. I stammer and grasp for words. I type, delete, type again, delete again. I await a flash of divine instruction, a stroke of inspiration, with which to full this sneering page.


But it won’t come. The cursor blinks mockingly, and the blank page resists my contribution.

Because I’m tired, y’all. Tired of writing about big adult companies having no idea. Tired of sex brands doing stupids. Lovense done fucked up, did a real big dumb, and now we all look bad again.


We’ve all been here so many times that we’re inured to social media drama. I meet this latest twitter rage-orgy not with the exuberant animus of youth, but with the lethargy and cynicism of hard-earned experience. How does this keep happening, I ask undirected, into the ether, to no reply. People have been on the moon. We’ve developed artificial intelligence. We’ve harnessed the power of the atom (I think Robert Oppenheimer had sex with it or something? I don’t know, it was a very long movie.)


And yet, sex toy companies still haven’t figured out how to not be weird on the internet.


Look. Social media is hostile to sex brands. It always has been. We’re not welcome, it’s been made clear to us over and over again, and yet we still keep falling in the door and causing a nuisance, like the cousin who turns up to your birthday party already drunk and pees on the rug. That rug really tied the room together, man.


Is It Offensive, Or Just Bad?


To save you reading a thousand words of my dense and frustrating writing, let me sum this whole thing up in a sentence: all you can do as an adult industry professional on social media is 1) maintain a presence, and 2) don’t fuck it up.


That’s it. That is the best you can hope for. That’s all. Thank you for reading.


It’s been two days since Lovense tweeted a tweet. A tweet that will live in infamy.


I’ve umm-ed and ahh-ed about whether to include it, but in this case I think it’s necessary for context, so here it is. Sorry.



Lovense in their wisdom deemed it appropriate to use a stock image of a child wetting the bed to invoke a connection with, presumably, female ejaculation.


I’m British and therefore genetically predisposed to understatement, so I would describe this tweet as… misguided. I find it… objectionable.


We shouldn’t have to say “don’t use children in your dumb dildo marketing” to an internationally successful sex toy brand in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty three. You’d think a no-children policy might be common sense by now. Nope. Apparently, adult industry social media managers have to surrender their brains as a security deposit in exchange for the keys to the brand twitter account.


But you know what? I’ve seen FAR worse than this.


Let’s not forget the 2015 self-immolation of the brand Fifi, a male masturbator that survived about a month before twitter kicked it to death, or perhaps worse, the time John Thomas Toys threatened to doxx sex workers. Or, you know, that whole LELO thing.



So there are objectively worse examples of bad social media marketing in the recent past. But it’s not the post itself that drew the most ire from the community. In fact, I’m personally not as angry at the content of the imagery as a lot of others are – I can kind of see a little kernel of humour in there somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s trash, it’s the kind of idea that someone might pitch in a content meeting just to make their colleagues laugh. But it should have stopped there.


Any business in an industry as sensitive as sex needs safeguards, an adult in the room, to say “ha, thanks for that Chad, I guess there are no bad ideas in a brainstorm, but I don’t think that idea is customer-facing.”


I think the reason I’m not as offended as everyone else about the actual content is that Lovense’s social media is trash from top-to-bottom. It’s always bad, which is notable given Lovense’s close affiliation with technology. I’m numb to this stuff, it’s like background radiation. If I hadn’t been messaged by a bunch of people bringing my attention to this ill-advised tweet, I doubt it would have elicited more than an eyeroll from me. But, inexplicably, the post wasn’t Lovense’s biggest mistake.


It was their response. It’s always the response.


You see, in the wake of the original round of disgust and animadversion, Lovense lied. They straight up lied about it in the most infuriatingly transparent way.



I’ve been Lovense in the past. That whole LELO thing I mentioned a moment ago? That was me. I was involved in that. I think that’s why I watch these periodic flare-ups so closely. I feel a perverse kind of kinship with other brands who’ve fucked up on social media. Maybe I should start a support group. Welcome to Dildo Hubris Anonymous, there’s literature by the coffee machine.


But this apology is unacceptable. Specifically the sentence, “This automatically scheduled post was a sabotaged move done by a former employee who privately prepared this content without approval.” It is patently, unashamedly, and obviously untrue, the result of panic after a piece of content caught an acute case of Ratio. Had the employee already left and sabotaged the brand, or were they fired as a result of it? And if it was sabotage, why did they choose content that’s so completely on-brand that on a different day it might have gone unnoticed? If you’re gonna do a “sabotaged move,” call out Lovense’s suspicious data harvesting policies. You burn everything down, you don’t post something that’s just a bit bad.


More importantly, it doesn’t address the primary concern of a lot of Lovense’s sex working partners: that payment providers are already extremely squeamish about the impact of their services on children. Remember, Mastercard and Visa pulled their payment provisions away from Fetlife until Fetlife deleted all the ageplay content on the site. Marketing like Lovense’s is ammunition for the moralistic lobbyists who put pressure on payment providers, on whom sex workers depend for their living. That’s a real, genuine problem.


Doesn’t matter though, the excuse is obviously a lie, and it’s hard to recover from that. It reveals a dangerous lack of PR experience, an attempt to handwave the negativity away. But it’s not right: we don’t want people to be losing jobs, we want brands to be doing better. To assign this egregious social media misstep to a Lone Gunman is just such an anaemic and pathetic evasion of responsibility, and it plays right into the hands of those who would like to shut us ALL down.


Is Adult Social Media Worth The Effort?


When it comes to social media for the adult industry, I advise clients to bet the beer money, not the rent. What I mean by that is that heavy investment in social media is a risk. The platforms don’t want us. The communities are capricious, they will turn on you in a second if you get anything wrong. It’s not sustainable, and it’s incredibly, excruciatingly difficult to convert social media engagements into sales.


In fact, I’m increasingly convinced that the only workable social media strategy for a sex toy brand is to tick the accounts over with "safe" content and promos, and instead be working on influencer marketing and partnerships. And then, apart from that, just try not to fuck it up.


So at last, we come to the premise of this article. Here’s my Five Step Strategy for adult industry social media success:


5. Don’t

4. Do

3. Anything

2. Fucking

1. Stupid.


Good luck out there.

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