Hugh Hefner’s brainchild, Playboy, is out to reinvent itself. Will less smut mean more money-making deals?
Scott Flanders, 55, is the first CEO outside of the Hefner family to run the privately held Playboy Enterprises Inc. Flanders has shrunk the staff by 75 percent, outsourced much of the business, and moved company headquarters from its historic home in Chicago to Los Angeles.
After 60 years of American hedonism, Playboy is moving away from the seedier aspects of the brand and morphing into a licensing company. Flanders’ goal is to build an upscale lifestyle brand around an iconic bunny logo.
The new Playboy is both smaller and more profitable. The corporate home is filled with dealmakers but devoid of bunnies and playmates.
Playboy sold its TV channels and digital properties to Internet porn giant Manwin, according to the Wall Street Journal, and struck partnership deals with art and fashion leaders like Dolce & Gabbana to reposition the brand. Long barred from Apple’s digital storefronts because of its titillating past, Playboy will create a nudity free app for the iPhone that features lifestyle tips, beautiful women and articles from the magazine.
Playboy still has a ways to go to achieve the profitability it needs to satisfy its bankers and private equity owners. More licensing deals will help, but what Playboy doesn’t know about their brand might hurt them.
Probe for Your Own Vulnerable Spots
Not knowing your real reputation in the marketplace can kill deals.