Nov 242014
 

We need to talk about what’s happening with LELO.

For about three years, they’ve mostly been releasing convoluted, overpriced, “innovative” pieces of shit topped off with pretentious marketing. It began in 2011 with Lyla, a remote-controlled egg that only responded when I pointed the remote directly at my vulva. The Smart Wands, in 2012, included “technology” which caused them to fail at inopportune moments. 2013 brought us Ida, easily the most functionally deficient LELO toy I’ve ever tried (that’s putting it mildly), and the useless Hula Beads. This year, we were blessed with Ora, an “oral sex” simulator, which was a waste of my clit’s time.

And now we have this.

LELO Pino... a cock ring "exclusively for bankers"

Your eyes do not deceive. That is a cock ring with a pinstripe-lined box, LELO-branded cufflinks, and a money clip engraved with the phrase “Always Be Closing.” Its tagline is indeed Exclusively for Bankers.

I’m sure you’re having a visceral reaction to me merely stating these objective facts, but allow me to make it a lot worse by quoting the press release and embedding the accompanying promotional video.

According to the company, the PINO “is the first pleasure object ever created to satisfy the hedonistic sexual cravings and excesses exhibited by members of the financial world, with LELO’s promotional video a testament to the role PINO will play in bankers’ lives.”

Steve Thomson, LELO’s head of marketing said, “PINO is the ultimate stimulus package, the most exclusive couples ring in the world and is aimed at the Wolves of Wall Street and Gordon Gekkos of our communities. They’re rarely satisfied and always looking for new limits to push, so PINO is about meeting those demands and adding a new adventurism to their sex lives.”

. . . “Can you think of a more demanding group to design a sex toy for?” Thomson said. “For most of us, sex is one of the most wonderful, pleasurable experiences in our lives. In the male-dominated, testosterone-drenched context of banking, it’s an obsession, and that perhaps explains the demands LELO receives and delivery to financial institutions. Bankers are both proud of their sex lives but also want to make sure they’re doing it right. PINO is kind of an external consultant in that respect, and as a sex-positive, inclusive brand — LELO creating this product 100% serves a demanding group.”

The new PINO is a premium couples’ ring worn by men during sex, with its stretchy silicone ring accommodating and enhancing men of all sizes. Its vibrating motor brings enhanced pleasure for her, “while ensuring the man will always close the deal with his partner,” the company says.

They’re right! The douchebag market was completely untapped before now! The world definitely needed a product catering to pompous rich asswipes! Those dudes were not taking up enough space to begin with; they needed to add more shit to their penises.

In this techno-saturated nightmare, all bankers are animalistic, unhinged, sex-obsessed men who get wasted, act stupid, objectify women, piss away their money, and get in bar fights… but don’t worry, they wake up just fine the next morning to put on their ties and go to their Important jobs.

Screenshots from LELO's promo video for Pino, the cock ring "exclusively for bankers"

Sex positive! Inclusive! I mean, exclusively for bankers, but — somehow inclusive!

When LELO posted this video to their Facebook page, the people told them what they really thought, in potentially the first ever comments section not to disappoint.

Reactions to LELO posting their sexist Pino promo video on Facebook

Whatever happened to the LELO of yore? The LELO that launched toys like the Siri, Ella, and Luna Beads… simple toys with simple aims and great execution? What happened to modest toys like Gigi and effective toys like Mona? What happened to making sex toys that work with actual human anatomy? Or prioritizing the user experience? Or modes that people actually like? Or, god, marketing that doesn’t insult the entire human race?

Let me remind you, LELO, since you seem to have forgotten, about the principle on which your goddamn company was founded.

. . . Leaving their jobs to work on LELO full-time, the trio agreed to base everything on the concept that intimate items designed for women should be designed with women in mind.

Where were women when Pino was conceived? In the constructed reality of Pino, women are just fucktoys that shitty dudes take home after getting wasted. Women are disembodied ankles and bitches who flip men off (but secretly want to fuck them). Women are vessels upon which men project their egos. Women certainly aren’t bankers.

This makes me feel sicker than I did watching that video of people making Girl Scout cookie shots. And that’s saying a lot.

  • What…what even? Exclusively for bankers? Comes with a money clip? Is it a sex toy or financial journal?

  • T.J.

    I started laughing halfway through the video. But, seriously – what the everloving fuck?

  • gardenlobster

    Wooow…

  • Aside from the unholy shitshow that is the ad and the marketing, those money clips and cufflinks are the tackiest things I’ve ever seen. They look like they’d go green within minutes. Not exactly aspirational.

  • This needs a

    *mic drop*

    I’ve now stopped writing my own rant because it won’t even touch this one.

  • wow, christ. next toy on my list was gonna be a mona 2 on your rec, but at this point, i’m just not comfortable supporting their company anymore. good job, lelo.

  • The advertising for the Pino is pretty lousy.
    It’s also pretty ironic that around the same time that Lelo released an item ‘exclusively for (male) bankers’ Picobong released ‘the world’s first inclusive sex toy’.
    That being said I’d really like to try the Pino with my partner (strange as that apparently might be; considering that I’m a female non-banker).

  • This whole product just gives me visions of Christian Bale freaking out in American Psycho because someone had a better business card than him.

  • StarieNite

    Sorry but why did Lelo make a video from South Park on how alcohol is advertised.

  • Rin

    Oh dear god, it’s even worse than I imagined. D: My brief look at Pino’s marketing didn’t prepare me for all of this. I mean, the Pino might turn out to be awesome at what it does, but the marketing is just disgusting.

    And there’s so many questions raised by this! Why just bankers? Are they the only ones who want effective cockrings? Do tacky add-ons somehow make a sex toy better or more effective for the target buyers? Does Lelo realize that this direction of marketing might change the opinions of female customers (and respectable male customers) for the worse? And is that a commercial for a sex toy or coke-induced fever dream?

  • AE Pessimal

    What I’m most desperate to know is how they propose to ensure that all buyers are bankers. Though I grant you that the target demographic could probably use the sort of assistance presumably offered.

  • Dani Jones

    From this video, you’d think the cockring turned the guy into some sort of raging psychopath. Maybe it’s a coke-ring?

  • “Can you think of a more demanding group to design a sex toy for?”

    Oh… hmm… let’s see… women? Or maybe folks with disabilities? Or ooh ooh trans women? Or uhh, ANYONE OTHER THAN RICH CIS-HET WHITE DUDES.

    When I first saw the countdown for this I actually had to check the calendar in case it was April First and I’d missed it.

    This actually manages to top the annoying and sexist “For Men Only”/”For Women Only” labeling on some Fun Factory products. This is just uncalled for, needlessly stereotypical and sexist, and it’s basically pulling off the Christian Grey/50 Shades ‘archetype’ (which I’m loathe to admit even IS an archetype now) and I think we’re all in agreement that is NOT who you wanna aspire to.

  • Vivi Ho

    I’m not positive, but I think this may have something to do with the current CEO of LELO, Miroslav Slavic. He started the job on January 2010, which fits with your timeline of decay, Epiphora. I’ve been looking through his LinkedIn and it seems this banker thing may be a gross personal fantasy, because he has a lot of background in business/sales/accounts.

  • Fingers Don’t Cut It

    If your company “prides itself” on making high-quality sex toys for women, then comes out with a mediocre cock ring ~exclusively~ for male bankers, while assuming that only men can be bankers…..you are DEFINITELY going to have a bad time.

  • I JUST NOW noticed that in the last seconds of the video, he puts his Pino away in his little vault with those dumb ass all-gold Luna Beads. At $3000, at least one of the two belongs in his vault.

  • Stabbin Robots

    I need to show this to my cousin. She’s the VP of one of Canada’s largest financial institutions. I think she’d get a giggle out of this.

    Personally, I shook my head so hard my earrings fell off, and facepalmed so hard at “Can you think of a more demanding group to design a sex toy for?” (Um, YES, try ANYBODY WITH A VAGINA) that my brains fell out of my butt.

  • Jessi

    Blech. Just… blech.

    Here’s the hilarious part – I work at a bank. One of the big ones, nationwide presence, billions in capital, yadda yadda yadda. Fully 2/3 of the people I work with/for are women. Managers, marketing presidents, district managers… most of them have vaginas. And I’m in the South, which is pretty much the most conservative part of the country. What decade are you in, Lelo?

  • Stabbin Robots

    I kind of have to doubt that it’s awesome, though. None of Lelo’s other cock rings are anything to write home about.

  • Stabbin Robots

    Good eye.

  • On point.

  • SICK BURN.

  • I caught that too. Because I watched it in slow motion. More than once. God help me.

  • It’s testosterone-infused.

  • The Tor isn’t bad. But Pino looks like a weird mouth. I feel like it would poke my vulva in multiple locations.

  • Plin

    This is pretty much where I’m at, too. I have one Lelo toy (I forget the model, it’s an external vibe) that I like, but I’ve been lusting after the Mona 2 after reading the glowing recommendations here and elsewhere. But is this a company I actually want to encourage, since they seem to be making some very strange choices?

    It’s a dilemma.

  • I totally feel you, buuuuuut… the Mona 2 is still awesome, and if you
    buy from one of my links you can support me and an amazing retailer. Like maybe SheVibe or Early to Bed?

  • Heh, given their focus on pupil dilation and constriction… cocaethylene is a helluva drug.

  • I just noticed the out-of-focus set of gold-plated luna beads at the very end there. Uhh, thanks for the minor acknowledgement of vaginas?

  • That reminds me of my April Fool’s day video for the Joy Ride and how I knew I had to include pupil dilation.

  • ClioPersephone

    Well guess who won’t be buying another Lelo product ever again? Me! *sigh* Jesus like we needed YET ANOTHER THING that caters to rich ass white guys… UGH!

  • #youdiditbetter

  • THAT’S NOT WHERE MY CLITORIS IS.

  • Deborah Zarett

    Are they fucking kidding?! Did April 1st come early this year? Not that I’d ever be able to sell a Lelo product at the store I work at (not in a market catering to many interested in high-end sex toys), but now I won’t even bother trying. There’s a whole case of Fun Factory I can focus on, should a customer interested in quality happen to show up.

  • ThaidUp

    I think it is brilliant marketing! Gets everyone talking about them. Just recently there has finally been some development in toys for men. It is not all about toys for women. A decade ago it was cheap plastic items that were made of materials that should not be in contact with a human body. Let’s not forget Lelo is releasing other high end items like candles and sensual B&D toys. It is hard to push the envelope without a few hits and misses. It seems like the same story line that will be coming in 50 Shades of Grey that many women will be swooning over. Mission accomplished I never seen so much press about a cock ring until now.

  • The only thing I make of this is that they are desperately trying to make noise outside of the Sex Blogging community. How can a toy company get a headline, however quirky, in the mainstream media? By pulling off a laughable plot like this. It’s kinda the whole “any publicity is good publicity.” They might just get a blurb in the New York Times or the Financial Post, even if it’s just to laugh at them. That kind of exposure is invaluable to a company like this. Unfortunately they are alienating their actual loyal costumers.

  • Heather N. M. Kinne

    “the first pleasure object ever created to satisfy the hedonistic
    sexual cravings and excesses exhibited by members of the financial
    world”
    … wait, what? In what world do bankers have “hedonistic sexual cravings”? I mean, except in American Psycho, which someone already mentioned. Also, as head of marketing, Steve Thomson should know better than to end a sentence with a preposition. Just saying.

    The Pino is lame, and anyone caught using it is automatically lame by association.

    I feel like Sarah from The Labyrinth when she’s in her “room” only to realize it’s all junk, and the walls come crashing down. Let’s hope that happens here with Lelo until they go back to making the good stuff.

  • That’s just it… it’s not *really* geared at bankers. It’s marketed around *our* stereotypical idea of a banker. Obviously there’s no reason a real banker needs Lelo cufflinks. We’re supposed to think this product it somehow higher end by attaching *our* pre-conceived notion of bankers as white rich males. It’s like the bouncer in front of an empty club — the feeling of exclusivity is supposed to make you want it more.

  • But people know their name already! They are one of, if not the, most well-known brands in luxury sex toys. IT IS ALL SO UNNCESSARY

  • Marie

    I’m not the first person who’s said it but this literally seems like an April Fools joke.

  • They’re well-known *within* the sex toy industry, but no sex toy brand has the same ubiquitous front-of-mind caché that brands like, say, Apple have. I didn’t hear of Lelo until 2 years ago when I actively sought out sex toys. The idea is probably to expand the market to new people that haven’t even considered sex toys before, because, like me 2 years ago, they think of sex toys as sleazy and cheap. Lelo has always been at the forefront of changing that image of sex toys and introducing them to a new crowd as high-end products (not toys — “pleasure objects”!). This is a way of recontextualizing the concept of sex toys out of the rather underground niche of sex shops/blogs and into a more mainstream, visible realm.

  • Can I upvote this entire post??? I REALLY NEED TO UPVOTE THIS ENTIRE POST. And all of these glorious comments.

  • I work in a sex toy shop and people routinely come in either looking for LELO or recognizing the name when they see it on the display. That’s what I meant. But I think you’re right about getting the attention of popular news websites.

  • Maybe it’s a really really really long con.

  • It’s like LELO have tried their version of 50 shades and failed on a big scale. I just don’t get this

  • I too thought it was some kind of joke at first. It definitely seems like it’s some sort of scheme to “get people talking” or whatever…but when all people are talking about is how offensive and sexist your ads are, that’s a big fail. Thanks for writing what most of us were thinking!

  • SB

    The exec’s at Lelo have clearly lost the plot and have seriously damaged the brand. Time to given them the flick (and not in a good way) completely. There are lots of alternatives – many better – than the Lelo offer so time to start focussing on those and let Lelo disappear.

  • Shots fired.

  • ohhh fuck you’re right, I shouldn’t be pissed about this shitty sexist marketing on a poor mashup of cockring tech that costs way too much for what it is, because LELO is making CANDLES now!

  • I’m pretty sure LELO is advertised in mainstream “women’s interest” magazines these days. I know they’re in duty-free shops in airports for sure. And then there was the whole marketing of the SmartWand and how they couldn’t be arsed to send review product to sex writers but allllllll the mommybloggers got them (and then complained it looked like a penis????). LELO, you confuse me.

  • juliet

    This will always be funny.

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  • That lends more credence to my assertion that Lelo is trying, as ever, to penetrate (hehe) a more visible, mainstream market with this. Perhaps an attempt to raise their brand awareness with men rather than women — note, not with actual bankers, but just dude-bros that liked the movie Wolf of Wall Street and want to incorporate *their* notion of a banker lifestyle into their own lives.

  • Again, this isn’t aimed at *actual* bankers. It’s aimed at the average cis dude, and plays on his stereotypical Hollywood notion of a banker. Guy’s supposed to think “Hey I can have some of that indulgent Wolf Of Wall Street lifestyle with this product.”

  • Sugar

    ???? Gross. I’m laughing and gagging at the same time.

  • Lorem

    I’m so glad you wrote an article on this!

    While this is abhorrent in it’s unfairness to both women and bankers, the worst of part of this isn’t that Lelo is completely tone deaf – with the massive marketing department this had to pass through, and their years of experience, it’s that they know exactly what they’re doing.

    With it’s glorification of fighting at night clubs, and oh so subtle subtext promoting casual sex with intoxicated women, this is meant to play on a culture of objectifying and marginalizing women. This is meant to infuriate, titillate, and play to the lowest common denominator of insecurities related to power and dominance – Power it appears in this case, which is wished for, but unearned.

    And it’s done at the expense of reasonable people who dedicated years to the study of finance – and worse, all women everywhere.

    I agree with Vivi Ho, They’re taking their company in an entirely new direction. This appears to be the final nail in the coffin of the old Lelo which focused on simple design and quality execution. Instead of upping their quality to compete against a new age of innovative better executed vibrators, they’re trying to differentiate themselves with marketing. They’re hoping by keeping their aesthetic they can hold their customer base and association with quality, while pandering to a new audience and cutting costs on internals to increase profits.

    I mean, pointing the remote at your vagina? I mean really? Peeling “chrome” paint on remotes, remotes that don’t actually control the vibrator the way they’re meant to. This would have taken just mid-range technology and materials to fix. The quality controls expected of your average coffee maker really shouldn’t be too much to ask from a company selling a sex toy at a premium price point. But, of course, neither should respect for women.

  • Pretty sure this is some kind of crazy attempt to jump into the “fifty shades of grey” market. Guys stepping outside of their Traditional roles and buying themselves sex toys because men need all the pleasure and extra stimulation.

    The “Always be Closing” is famous from the GlenGary Glen Ross Speech https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVQPY4LlbJ4

    Because nothing makes a sex toy more attractive than springing lines from a movie about competative sales men.

  • This comment. Damn.

  • …from 1992.

  • Which still only feels like it was ten years ago….

  • My Sexy Fantasies
  • I love this as an Epiphora meme that only my followers truly understand. I love it so much.

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  • Vivi Ho

    Sorry, but anything remotely along the lines of 50 Shades of Grey makes me want to vomit. The criticism against it has been thoroughly covered, so I’ll be brief. 50 Shades is not BDSM, it is abuse. (I said I’d be brief, didn’t I?)

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  • Guest

    Lelo deleted the comment below when I posted it on their youtube comments section of the Pino video. I reposted it. I’m sure they’ll delete it again. Lelo had also deleted all the comments you quoted in your article above so I’m posting my comment here just to piss them off… Here it is:

    “The World’s First Sex Toy Exclusively for Bankers” Who ever came up
    with this nauseating vomit of an expression needs to be slapped around
    with a Pino. Silly morons trying to sound smart.
    Why use the term “Bankers”? Are we in the fucking 60s?! There’s a plethora of financial institutions in this day and age dick wands!
    Besides, in any business, if you limit your marketing target to a specific group, you’re certainly heading for failure.
    Also you’re pretty much a scum bag lowlife if you wear a “Lelo” cufflink to
    work. Then again who the fuck wears cufflinks anymore?! Again with the
    fucking 60s! A male “banker” going to work wearing a suit with “Lelo”
    cufflinks and humping his female secretary who happens to be called
    Pussy Galore. Grow up!

  • Sarah

    I wasn’t super bothered by Pino, until reading this, and realizing what I’d missed. Until now, I’d been looking at it as I would a Dos Equis commercial – not my market, not particularly smart, but not taken seriously. But I went to college with guys who would have eaten this up. Who would have felt validated. It’s a real culture, and it’s not one to be pandered to.

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  • Tmcaurinus

    Is he the one who thinks it reasonable to ask nearly $800 for a small piece of steel, and $3500 to coat it in gold (because it obviously feels way better in gold plate)?

  • Milk Coffee

    Reading your reviews, I’ve been interested in getting a few things of theirs later on when I get a finance safety-net and can actually get myself some nice toys to start experimenting and stuff, but seeing this just makes me never want to throw a cent there way if at all possible.

    [It’s weird my first post ever on your site after reading it for years is me denying to buy a product from a company. I should maybe try commenting more often now. (the things I would say… let’s not no one wants to hear that.)]

  • Tzipora

    I know this is a nine month old comment but I just had to reply because Lorax, you rock for this!!! That and as a disabled woman I’m like yes, yes, yes! I’ve spoken at length to owners of female run, disability friendly sex shops for recommendations of toys to meet my needs and read the one and only damn book that is really out there as a broad sex and disabilities handbook and still, there’s not much there for people like me. Hell throw in that I’m a lesbian (and shoot I know a bunch of disabled women, and quite a few other disabled lgbt folks) and its like the industry thinks people like me don’t even exist and shoot I know disabled folks who genuinely believe they aren’t deserving of relationships or will never find them and just ahh… I’ve thought a lot about starting a sex blog with the general premise that everybody can have sex (alone or with partners, regardless of disability or gender or age or whatever!) Of course being disabled its hard to devote a lot of energy to anything beyond managing my own life but that’s exactly why disabled people aren’t fighting harder dang it. And statistically speaking, that’s such a huuuge mostly untapped market. But oops disability isn’t sexy like the asshole Christian Grey market… *eye roll*

    Anyway, seriously. Your comment here was just awesome. All of it.

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  • Pineut

    You know what I love about the vibrator brand Smilemakers? The tasteful, white packaging with a nice cartoon on it instead of some muscular walking oil spill. You know what I dig about Nexus? The tasteful, black packaging without some hugely inflated pornstar. These companies have the right idea. It’s totally possible to market your toys as sexy, without being tacky and gross. Lelo isn’t my style, too pompous, but they used to adhere to this idea as well. But now?

    The bad part isn’t that Lelo is branching out with toys for men, but their idea on what marketing towards men entails. Douchepumps acting like fratboys that have way too much cash and way too little respect or decency. Fighting, excessive drinking, degrading women and hell, even borderline raping them. Obviously that’s incredibly insulting to women everywhere. But the idea that that is what men look up to and want, that’s just as vile and completely misplaced.

    Did you know that in Dutch, Big Bird is called Pino? And he’s blue instead of yellow, too. Huh. Completely unrelated.

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