Playboy Attempting To Change Its Cultural Image
As any good business should, Playboy Enterprises has made the decision to revamp its cultural image in an attempt to stay socially relevant and financially viable. The past several years haven’t been the best for the iconic magazine, seeing a reduction in the size of the magazine and number of issues per year, combining two months a year into a “special edition”. Quite possibly the most obvious indication of the magazine’s decline is that their biggest celebrity pictorial in recent memory was Lindsey Lohan.
Recognizing the need for a change, Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders has made some recent deals to put the Playboy brand back on top. In 2011, Playboy entered into a deal with adult entertainment company Manwin, giving them control over the operation of Playboy’s TV and online holdings. A partnership with Dolce and Gabanna was also reached, allowing D&G to market designer t-shirts with classic Playboy covers and centerfolds. According to the Wall Street Journal, both partnerships were strategic decisions to help position the brand away from pornography and be viewed as a classier brand. Playboy is also currently brokering a major deal with Apple, including Playboy’s first iPhone app described as “featuring lifestyle tips, articles from the magazine and, of course, photos of beautiful women” (non-nude).
These recent business decisions of Scott Flanders seems to have worked, raising the company’s licensing revenue from $37 million to $62 million over the past three years. However, the closing of the Palm’s Casino’s Playboy Club resulted in the loss of $4 million in licensing each year.
The business decisions of Scott Flanders have been a source of much criticism amongst fans and employees of Playboy Enterprises. Flanders is responsible for taking the company private, moving the headquarters from Chicago to Los Angeles, and laying off 75% of the company’s staff and outsourcing a large part of the business.
It’s not difficult to argue that the magazine’s best and most iconic days are behind it, but could these changes be enough to put the magazine back on track to bigger and better things, or is the company past the point of saving?