Beyond the beating that email gave to the U.S. Postal Service, it’s difficult to imagine a brand more threatened by the Internet and digital technology than Playboy. We’re a little surprised that the old bunny is still around, because today anyone can access pretty much every imaginable variety of “adult content” with a few simple clicks of a mouse or taps on a touch screen for the low, low price of a few pop-up ads (and a browsing history that might upset the ladies in your life).
How can Playboy even pretend to compete with all that low-to-no-cost content? Answer: The brand will live on by being dogged, resourceful and creative, because the Playboy we know simply won’t go down without a fight (nor should it). For example, the brand’s new iPhone app doesn’t feature nudity, because its makers are abiding by Apple’s content standards while demonstrating some excellent marketing acumen.
The Playboy name and logo are instantly recognizable across the globe, and we have no doubt that such a popular brand identity can be salvaged despite big changes in the way the public consumes sexually explicit content. See, Playboy was never only about sex. It’s a brand defined by both its bold approach to intimate relations and its top-notch literary content. The magazine and its properties were always known for being artful, playful and — dare we say it — endearingly tepid when compared to the raunchiness available online.
So the “old boys’ club” brand is modernizing, which means adapting to a less rigid definition of what is sexy to whom, and embracing anyone who may be attracted to the Playboy experience. Hello, Gen Y!
Playboy sees its future and ultimate survival in the Gen Y demographic because, in a weird, way both society and the once renegade Playboy brand have come full circle. The proliferation of social media and the demise of privacy have brought sexuality out of the closet, so to speak, which means much of the discomfort and stigma associated with sexuality has waned along with beleaguered perspectives on race, religion and how the Russians were going to blow us up any day now (it’s North Korea now, as you probably know).
In short, we the public are now less hesitant to discuss the topic of our own sexuality (even if it’s in an anonymous online forum).
Now that the proverbial birds and bees are becoming a part of normal conversation, the topic has lost some of its mystique. Tthat’s a good thing for Playboy, a brand that always defined itself as a world-class sexual ambassador showing the world what people with class, taste and a little imagination find attractive at a given point in time.