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Why there’s no such thing as bad publicity

Noel Biderman is CEO of Avid Life Media, the parent company of Established Men, which connects older, affluent males with younger females seeking "sugar daddy" arrangements. If you don't know what that is, well… just think about it for a minute. Once you figure it out, you'll see why controversy has helped the brand get its name out there.

"There have been journalists and commentators who have lumped us in with other services that they have positioned as a veiled form of prostitution," he said. But despite the moral indignation, a stubborn fact remains—the service has no shortage of clients. In fact, he said, it attracts about 12 women for every man who signs up.

Businesses that find success through controversy occupy a wide spectrum. And while some people may scorn them in public, the businesses attract enough consumers to suggest that the scorn has provided a form of free advertising. CNBC.com spoke with people in a variety of businesses and professions about the controversy that they've faced, and whether or not that's actually helped them succeed.

Read ahead to see 10 controversial businesses that have plenty of people patronizing them.

—By CNBC's Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 18 March 2014

Watch "The Profit," a reality series with multimillionaire Marcus Lemonis turning around struggling companies, Tuesdays at 10 p.m ET/PT.

Source: Avid Life Media