It could have happened in the 80s in Silicon Valley, but this success story started in France, at the end of the 60s.
The young Marc Dorcel, a gifted illustrator and painter, wanted to study at the School of Fine Arts. His parents did not like the idea. They would have preferred a less risky career for their son. So Marc became an industrial designer. Returning from his military service, at the age of 26, he was promoted to the Technical Commercial Department of the company which employed him. The job didn’t satisfy his ambition. Seeing that one of his parents’ neighbours was earning 500 Francs a day with the small transportation business he had set up, Marc decided to set himself up in this field. "Transports Dorce" was launched soon afterwards with 15 lorries. After successful beginnings, numerous mechanical problems occurred, which calmed the enthusiasm of the young entrepreneur. He winded-up the transportation company and moved into an apartment in the prestigious "Place des Vosges", Paris.
From lorries to eroticism
No great success happens without a little luck. Marc Dorcel’s luck was noticing his neighbour who spent his time opening envelopes containing cheques. He discovered that this man was selling erotic literature by mail order. It was a rewarding activity that also left time for hobbies. Marc jumped at the idea and launched "Select Diffusion", a mail order company selling raunchy books. A difficult start-up discouraged his partner, who withdrew.
Marc continued to try his luck. His luck came in the form of a Swiss journalist who, convinced he was dealing with a big publisher, gave him the rights to Ursula, the excellent erotic novel he had just written. It was a best-seller: 20,000 copies sold in less than three months. Regrettably, the success also brought the condemnation of censorship, imposed by the Commission for the Protection of the Youth and the famous Seventeenth Chamber of the Paris Criminal Court. Marc Dorcel relinquished "Select Diffusion", which was crippled by fines, to create "Select Diffusion Contact".
Marc Dorcel then, like the technology stars of today, demonstrated that he had his finger on the pulse and dared to trust his intuition. He was aware that the demand for eroticism was about to make an overwhelming transition from text to image.
MARC DORCEL: the birth of a start-up
Another neigbourhood story. In 1974, when censorship in France started to ease, Marc Dorcel moved to new premises on rue de Sèvres. Two VCR repairmen were based inside the building. It didn’t take long before they offered to retranscribe his paper publications on to video. In 1979, “Jolies Petites Garces” (Pretty Little Bitches) was released as the first XXX movie produced and directed by MARC DORCEL.
Today, it is a real collector’s item which was also re-released to mark MARC DORCEL’s 100th production. Despite remaining slightly naive from a technical perspective, this movie was nevertheless successful, with 4,000 copies sold in sex shops. It achieved significant profits. The productions and success of MARC DORCEL then continued. He soon gave up photo-novellas to dedicate himself to video full-time. He also entrusted his movies to talented directors like Michel Barny (15 movies) or Michel Ricaud (42 movies).
In that period, there was a huge surge in VCR equipment, which brought American XXX productions with high technical quality, shot in the 35 mm Academy format, to the French market.
A premium signature
In 1985, MARC DORCEL headed to Las Vegas. He brought back some gems which would prove to be hits on the French market. He returned firmly convinced that quality and rigour were the keys to sustainable success. MARC DORCEL productions became increasingly popular with the public, not only in France but in 25 countries.
Whereas many competitors just mass produced budget movies, Marc Dorcel remained true to its quality standard. At the time, he didn’t hesitate to invest 500,000 – 800,000 Francs in each production. He also signed the first exclusivity contract with an XXX actress, Laure Sinclair, who he had just discovered and was about to become a star.
The birth of a multimedia group
In 1996, MARC DORCEL’s son, Grégory, came on board. Their roles were well defined: Marc supervised production, while his son took charge of international development and the first multimedia projects.
The pairing worked well. The company expanded, making its presence felt in over 56 countries, while continuing to differentiate itself.
From the CD-ROM, to the first multilingual DVD and first VOD platform; MARC DORCEL never ceased to innovate ahead of the big movie studios. By remaining on the cutting edge of new technologies, the company accumulated success and expertise. Teams were built, partnerships flourished and growth became a permanent feature.
Grégory became managing director of the company in 2000. Editorially, MARC DORCEL captured the spirit of the times, developing his Pornochic series with his new director Hervé Bodilis. Production budgets rocketed. As did sales, thanks to blockbusters and special projects, including Snoop Doggystyle, Rap Intégral and Casino. The Dorcels didn’t hesitate to call on Doc Gyneco and Laly (from Secret Story), whose XXX movies were media and commercial hits. As market leader for Video on Demand, in 2006 MARC DORCEL launched its Pan-European TV channel. Three years later, its programmes were broadcast by more than 50 operators across all of Europe.
With a unique concept, a very strong, positive image (known to 50% of the public according to a study conducted by IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion) in 2009, MARC DORCEL continued to diversify and launched a chain of sex stores open to the public, a magazine, and a range of sex toys.