Since 2005, The Screaming O has been telling us that their products like Ringo, The Big O, The Screaming O Plus (the clear material products) were “SEBS Silicone”. After I delved into my material research, discussions with industry professionals, and flame testing, I felt pretty damn certain that there was never any silicone in these products. When an AVN article came out on January 14th talking about how The Screaming O decided to run lab tests AND quoted Anne Hodder of Hodder Media Inc, their Public Relations Spokesperson, as saying “I think we can finally put to rest the critics with our data that shows our products are what we say they are,” I got kinda angry at first 1 because well….no. The tests revealed that the SEBS products are just SEBS….not the SEBS Silicone they’ve been called all along. And because there was no talk in the article about The Screaming O recognizing the material disparity publicly and stating that changes will be made to reflect that, something felt off. It felt like “they still don’t get it”. But as soon as I was told that actually, yeah, they DO get it, I wanted to see if I could get more information. Yes, I think a few have doubted that even their silicone was truly silicone, and those tests DO prove that they are. But the biggest problem is that continuing to have these listed as silicone has caused confusion to people who are trying to seek out only non-porous materials, and it damages trust in the industry as a whole.
I think this might be the first time that a sex toy company has both tested AND publicly admitted that their material hasn’t been what they advertised it to be. I was able to snag an interview with Anne Hodder and get some answers. I do now feel better about TSO overall as a company. I still don’t love the porous cock rings 2 but now that I know they weren’t purposely lying and now that I know the material is absolutely non-toxic, I think the rings are fine for a first-timer to try out the world of cock rings. I’d rather you choose from their pure silicone line, but hey, budgets n’ all that.
I’m printing Anne’s answers as she gave them to me. So this will be long, but you can skip around if you wish.
1. When a company goes on for so many years saying that it’s a blend (and recently I was told by an expert that blends aren’t possible) we lose complete trust in them. What can be said to help us regain our trust in your brand about the “SEBS Silicone” issue? Is TSO also admitting that these products are porous (and that for true body-safe products that will last, go for the premium silicone versions)? Is TSO officially saying that yes, the SEBS products were all mislabeled in the past?
Labeling our products as SEBS Silicone was not an intentional manipulation or plan to deceive the public; it was an error that dates possibly back to the company’s 2005 inception and was carried throughout our marketing until we made the official decision to have our materials tested. And with the lab results in hand, we are now in the process of revising our marketing, packaging, websites and more to reflect the correct information: our stretchy products are made of pure non-toxic, body-safe SEBS.
SEBS, as is any material that is not platinum silicone, stainless steel, or coated wood or stone, is slightly porous – but “porous” does not mean “unsafe” or “toxic” when it comes to external-use toys. As with any sex toy, keeping Screaming O products in tip top shape simply requires cleaning after every use and safe storage: keep in a cool, dry place away from dust/dirt and any other outside contaminants.
We choose to manufacture much of our product line out of pure SEBS in order to provide quality alternatives for men, women and couples who cannot afford (or do not want) to drop $60+ on a rechargeable cock ring or $90+ clitoral vibe. And that demographic deserves body-safe materials and quality construction, which is why we are committed to confirming the composition of our materials with independent lab testing.
Also, it’s important to note that our SEBS is NOT to be confused with jelly, the material commonly found in floppy dildos that often smell like melted shower curtains – and not something you’d want anywhere near your body.
2. What can you tell us about the Twitter conversations back in November, most of which are referenced here? That exchange really soured a lot of bloggers on the company in general.
That exchange was unfortunate. To put it simply, we had an outside contractor handling basic social media duties (daily posting, mostly) who responded to the online argument without conferring with the marketing team first. Her responses were argumentative, uninformed and unprofessional and did not accurately represent the thoughts and feelings of The Screaming O.
We immediately went into damage control as soon as we were made aware of the situation. We reached out to all involved and offered “offline” discussion to try to set the record straight, and The Screaming O is no longer using this contractor’s services.
Customer service is our No. 1 priority – whether it’s with our retailers or our fans – and we work hard to establish and maintain candid communication with anyone who reaches out to us, regardless of whether it’s with a compliment or criticism.
3. The article that came out on Jan 14th talked about the test results without acknowledging that TSO recognizes the disparity between the results (SEBS vs SEBS silicone) and plans to take action on that. What can you tell us about this action?
We are now in the process of revising all copy on our websites, packaging and marketing materials to correctly represent our SEBS products, now that we have hard lab data to clear up the confusion. We also encourage retailers and customers to adjust their own marketing copy to ensure that their descriptions accurately represent our products to the shopping public, something that we’re communicating through internal newsletter and email communication.
What This Means
Something that I learned a few years ago from Metis Black of Tantus is that basically you have the material supplier and (for most companies) the manufacturing plant (usually in China) acquires the material. The creating company can SAY they want XYZ and the supplier can say “yeah sure…it’s XYZ *winkwink* and the creating company who is putting their name on the product is truly none the wiser (unless they went the extra mile and randomly had toys sent off to a third-party lab to be tested). So the company (in this case, The Screaming O) geniunely believes that their product is this “silicone elastomer blend” and sticks to that. I do believe that we’ve seen other, larger companies in the past who may have known that their “TPR Silicone” product had no silicone, but they labeled it that way for sales because they could. Companies like that simply quietly changed the wording on their site and product packaging, but never did so out of concern for their customers.
Some might be skeptical about a company really not knowing that their material isn’t what they’re told it to be; but it rings true to the infamous (in industry circles) story of Metis challenging a vendor friend at a trade show some years back who insisted his product was silicone, and she used the flame test to show that it wasn’t.
I’m hoping that TSO is able to reach most retailers and have them change the wording on their sites, and begin to lift this confusion of “blends” being a thing and myths that “silicone melts when it touches other silicone“.
I’ve been told that the lab test results and information will be available online and I’ll update with a link here when they are.
What are your thoughts? Does this change how you view The Screaming O and their products?