Talk about tough times for magazines. Meredith’s Parents thought a trade campaign comparing itself to Playboy would be a fun way to help it sell advertising, but Playboy’s legal department didn’t seem to agree.
The “What Do Parents Magazine and Playboy Have in Common?” ad shows Playboy founder Hugh Hefner appearing to hold a copy of Parents and points out that the two titles rank high in reader engagement.
“This was just a fun way of drawing attention to our shared success, with another iconic brand, albeit one that has a very different brand DNA,” Brian Kightlinger, group associate publisher and director of sales for Meredith's Parents Network, said in an e-mail. “With the obvious contrast between Playboy and Parents, we thought it would be humorous to point out the similarities.”
But apart from the obvious problems with the comparison (starting with the fact that Playboy is well past its prime), Hef didn’t approve the use of his image, according to a Playboy spokeswoman.
“Our legal department has since spoken with the folks at Meredith,” the Playboy rep said. “We understand that the use of Mr. Hefner’s image was an oversight and have been assured it won’t happen again.”