Playboy Magazine has a big problem: it hasn’t made money in a decade. But now the brand has a plan to stay relevant and it involves less skin.
Nudity was revolutionary when Hugh Hefner launched playboy 62-years ago, but not anymore.
“Millennials have seen everything. They’re one mouse click away from anything that you can imagine,” said Scott Flanders, CEO of Playboy Enterprises.
Playboy’s strategy is to go digital, minus the raunchy stuff. Last year, Playboy.com relaunched as a safe-for-work site, including video shoots where there’s barely any skin; the girls are fully dressed. “We’ve more than four times grown our traffic. It’s not provocative to see nudity. In fact, it can actually limit our audience,” Flanders said.
But the magazine isn’t going anywhere, even though it’s a money-loser. Playboy calls it an “ambassador for the brand,” one that feeds its real cash cow – the iconic bunny logo.
Jimmy Jellinek, Playboy’s Chief Content Officer, is the man charged with revitalizing what some call a “dead brand walking.”
“A pair of socks doesn’t have a DNA, a t-shirt doesn’t have a DNA, until you’re able to imbue it with a narrative. And that narrative starts in the magazine,” Jellinek says.
Playboy did more than a billion dollars in retail sales last year, everything from perfume to clothing. The globally-recognizable bow-tied bunny powers the brand.
“I would say the rabbit head logo’s worth a billion dollars,” Flanders said.
Playboy products are in 180 countries. There are 24 international editions of the magazine. But the very thing that built its business, won’t be what saves it.
“Full nudity does not need to be the bedrock of this brand. It’s much more about lifestyle and entertainment. I say we give aspirin for the headache of people’s lives,” Flanders said.