Oct 7, 2014 · 1 minute

When the massive online adult network Pornhub (extremely NSFW) launched a contest to name its first-ever creative director, many wrote the campaign off as a stunt. Like its rejected Super Bowl ad, few people expected the SFW ad spots that Pornhub solicited to actually make it in a major magazine or on a billboard. Instead, these gimmicky gambits function as a reacharound -- I mean -- workaround to get its ads in front of large numbers of people online, where the FCC or other prudish, mainstream gatekeepers won't censor them.

Well it appears that the contest was more than a gimmick. The winning entry, which depicts two hands making a heart shape around the tagline "All You Need is Hand" is now plastered on a 54' by 48' billboard in New York's Times Square.


It's not the first-ever billboard for an adult website but it's close. A porn site called Brazzers had sponsored a Times Square billboard first, but it was less a full-fledged advertisement and more a public service announcement for safe sex that featured Brazzers' branding. Pornhub communications representative Mike Williams tells me this is the first "full-on" billboard of this size and scale for an adult site.

Because it's only a marginal step forward in the mainstream acceptance of porn advertising, it may not herald a huge shift in where and when consumers see these ads. Nevertheless, both Pornhub Vice President Corey Price and Jasmin Vice President Jerry Jardene firmly believe that an ad for an adult brand will eventually make its way to national television. Many outside of the online porn space, however, disagree. Despite offering up a perfectly tame commercial spot, Jardene was rejected for wide distribution by both Warner Bros and NBC Universal. Along with Pornhub's dashed Super Bowl aspirations, the site was even spurned by the bro-ed out testosterone-fueled network Spike TV. If you've lost Spike, you've lost the world.

But then again, a 50 foot billboard in Times Square with no public service announcement behind it other than "masturbate, dummy" may not have seemed like a sure thing either. You know what they say -- Be the innovation you want to see in the world.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]