It’s only by sticking to their guns and going against the grain that Keith Caggiano and Justin Ross brought their company, The Screaming O, into being.
“What most people don’t know is The Screaming O wasn’t the first and only brand name that Justin had in mind,” Caggiano told AVN. “Believe it or not, he was on the fence between that and Butterfly Kisses, and there were people telling him that Butterfly Kisses might be the better way to go. Thankfully, Justin and I soon realized that The Screaming O was a no-brainer choice, and we secured all of the domain names and trademarks we needed to found our empire.”
That empire started in 2005, when Ross called Caggiano with what seemed to many to be a crackpot idea. The pair had been friends for about 10 years when Ross suggested they go into business together, creating and selling vibrating love rings.
“From the time I hung up the phone and drove down to see him, I could picture the look, feel, color scheme—even the logo and T-shirt design—and within the first day of sitting down to discuss the project, we had the imagery, promotion, branding, attitude and positioning all mapped out. We still use these same tactics today,” said Caggiano, who was working in marketing for a mainstream company at the time. “We later met with Justin’s graphics and web development team and immediately put a game plan together for the upcoming Erotica L.A. show, which was where The Screaming O made its debut.”
Getting to the debut wasn’t always a smooth ride, however. In the beginning, the company developed rings similar to what was on the market, but only got a ho-hum response from the public. So Caggiano and Ross decided to ramp things up a bit and redevelop the entire concept of a vibrating ring.
“We redesigned the ring with a stronger motor—jumping it from 8,000 RPMs to 11,000 RPMs—and increased the motor’s battery life from 20 to 45 minutes. But before we relaunched and debuted this new design, we realized there was something more we needed to do,” Caggiano said.
That “something more” turned out to be focusing on both people in the intimate relationship.
“After some brainstorming we designed the pleasure knob, which we placed evenly around the ring to transfer the motor’s powerful vibration to him so he could enjoy the vibes just as much as his partner,” he said.
Once that prototype was created, The Screaming O partners got the response they were looking for: “Give me more!”
From there, the pair came up with products that fell right in with the new Screaming O brand: The Big O, the Vibrating Ring Condom Pack, and the Screaming O Plus cock ring. In every case, products were designed with the idea of filling a void in the market.
“We wanted to create other sexy toys that shoppers might want to try and market them in a fun and light-hearted fashion to make it clear these items are for everyone,” Caggiano said.
The formula worked, as the company and the products started to receive national and international attention. But rather than rest solely on the success of those early products, Ross and Caggiano continue to come up with new ideas, releasing new Screaming O products on a regular basis each year.
“The idea is that customers can find something new from The Screaming O to try every time they walk into a store,” Caggiano said. “We add variety often enough so that whether the customer is new or returning, he or she will see something completely different on the shelf, but packaged in the same trusted and recognizable packaging of their other Screaming O brand sex toys. And if they come to the store and see the entire product line displayed in one place, they can plan ahead and choose which item they’ll try next time.”
Additionally, the company still strives to fill voids in the pleasure products industry, crafting items that recognize no single product will work for every single person every single time.
Recognizing that need for variety, and releasing items on such a regular basis, has led to The Screaming O cultivating a dedicated fan base.
“We’ve come to a point where shoppers hear about and wait on pins and needles for the newest Screaming O sex toy to come out, and we’ve especially taken things to a new level with our new Carnal Carnival collection, which debuted in July to much acclaim,” Caggiano said. “This series of thrill-seeking vibrating cockrings were designed for those looking to add some new spice to their sex lives, possibly those who fall into the higher level of sexual interest and curiosity. The results of our research and development made it clear that the Carnal Carnival collection lets couples turn their bodies into amusement parks, and that’s just the latest way The Screaming O has reinvented the way couples have sex.”
The Carnal Carnival theme follows another of The Screaming O’s long-standing traditions: unique, fun, and original marketing campaigns. Caggiano said the game plan from the beginning was to make the merchandising and promotion of products work hand-in-hand to solidify the brand at all levels.
“We also giving retailers essential tools to entice new and repeat sales,” he said. “Our product line is available with multiple planogram options, giving buyers and store managers choices of how to display our collections. Each kit comes with separate point-of-purchase tools that also catch shoppers’ eyes even at the point when they make their final purchasing decisions—counter-top displays, coin mats, Frequent Screamer punch cards, hanging signage and posters and more.
“Though our products and their signature red packaging and recognizable O-theme speak volumes, The Screaming O’s display options and merchandising tools are what turn up the sound.”
Tying it all together, however, are the product names. Monikers such as Rock On, Woo-Hoo and OWow lend themselves well to large-scale events and parties, Caggiano said. And there are the Scream Team girls have also been a marketing success for the company.
And the fun is nowhere near ending, Caggiano said. Future plans for the company include more new products, as well as items the industry and consumers might not expect from The Screaming O.
“What we’ve released up to now is nothing compared to what we’re planning later this year and into 2011,” Caggiano said. “Being innovative and maintaining that fresh perspective isn’t something you try for—you’ve either got it or you don’t, and clearly we’ve got it down to a T. Or should I say ‘O?’”
For more information, visit TheScreamingO.com.
This article originally ran in the August 2010 issue of AVN.