Playing With the Playboy Brand

Don’t ask me how I got to be “The Playboy Professor.” No. Don’t ask me. Please.

Okay, ask me!

Several years ago a a reporter called my office and asked if I could give some opinions about the Playboy brand. It’s an interesting brand and I recalled hearing something about it and so I agreed. That story was printed. Then another story on the Playboy brand appeared a few years later in BusinessWeek that they called me about. And then a follow-up article.

So when John Intini of Canada’s Maclean’s magazine contacted me recently about his own story on the Playboy brand, how could I say no? The brand is intriguing because it is a victim of its own mainstreaming. Mainstreaming is what so many entertainment brands desire. They want to hit that sweet spot of crossover, appealing to both the under 35 and over 35 crowds, both males and females, Conservatives and Liberals. But when it happens, as Playboy demonstrates, there is a certain “bleaching” effect (no pun intended). A certain blandness that kicks in, or more accurately kicks out. Because it seems like it is on the cultural margins, in little pockets of authentic outsiderness, seaminess, ghettoness, that the meaning that is Meaning spawns and rises. That where brands and their communities get their oomph, their pizzazz, their wow.

I like the article Mr. Intini has written because it starts to examine some of these important issues for brands in general through the specific case. And I also like that Macleans Magazine is publishing the entire article online, making it available to you by clicking here.

If ya wanna see the pictures, you’re going to have to buy the magazine.

One Response

  1. Jeff Podoshen January 9, 2008

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