'We had a few awkward phone calls with Shutterstock' - Behind the Campaign with Cold Turkey for Zava

How did a campaign to raise awareness of porn-induced erectile dysfunction become a Christmas hit? Third City's Tabby Haysom and Victoria Mayman give the lowdown.

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

We uploaded videos of turkeys to leading UK porn sites to raise awareness of porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED). We wanted to encourage men to go ‘cold turkey’ on porn over Christmas and promote Zava’s ED services to men over XXX-mas.

How did the idea come into being?

December is a key month for ED medication sales for UK-based online doctor Zava, and desk research found that it’s a busy time for porn consumption, too. Consulting Zava doctors, we identified a growing recognition of PIED: men reporting difficulties becoming aroused due to pornography’s impact on their expectations of sex. So we came up with the idea of tackling the issue at source, speaking to men through porn sites. With arresting content designed to spark conversation, we wanted to amplify our message of going ‘cold turkey’ on porn at Christmas.

What ideas were rejected?

We considered working with a few former porn stars who have spoken out against the industry to spread the campaign message, and even chatted to a few. But finding an appropriate candidate proved an impossible task; most of their content was a little too rich, even for this campaign.

Instead we decided to go down a different influencer route, working with psychosexual and relationship therapist Clare Faulkner to provide useful and practical advice for those concerned about their porn consumption, and the impact this may have on sexual performance.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process.

Despite the clinical insights into PIED we were able to gain from Zava doctors, and anecdotal evidence from Faulkner, there remained very little information available on the topic. So we decided to commission our own research, speaking to men to quantify the scale of the issue.

The next step was developing content with talkability – and uploading turkeys to porn sites was a disruptive way to get men talking. Humour was key to reaching our target audience, so we came up with captions such as ‘Big Bird Gets Roasted’ to get people engaged, while ensuring we were featuring in popular searches to maximise reach.

Content and research findings were then packaged into a press release for media and influencers; we wanted to create something useful for the men affected, offering advice on the Zava site on how to give up porn, including influencer tips. Advice and campaign images of the videos in situ were also shared on social throughout December.

What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Being a small-budget campaign, we couldn’t simply film videos of turkeys to create Zava-owned content. Instead, we had to rely on stock footage. Not surpringly, working out the legalities of uploading stock videos onto porn sites required a lot of research, combing through the terms and conditions of both the adult sites themselves and stock image providers… and a few awkward phone calls with Shutterstock.

How did you measure the results?

We’ve already reached 1.1 million people on social media, alongside 20 major articles published to date, including the Mirror, Star and Metro. Brand awareness increased by 31 per cent in December – hitting an all-time UK high (Opinium Research Impact brand tracker), and average weekly site hits increased more than threefold (pre-campaign vs. four weeks after). SEO domain increased two percentage points (63 to 65).

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

It’s worth thinking beyond conventional PR homes for a campaign platform that really fits with what you’re trying to do. Adult sites have enormous reach (PornHub alone has more than 42 billion visits annually), which, with the right activity, allowed us to reach an enormous proportion of our target audience.

Tabby Haysom and Victoria Mayman are senior account manager and senior account director, respectively, at Third City

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