To protect its vast global brand, Christie Hefner employs regular task forces, in-person conferences and old fashioned communication.
Passivity is not normally something associated with Playboy . "It is a mistake to be a passive licensor," says Christie Hefner, Playboy chairman and CEO. "You need to be an active marketing partner. To do otherwise puts at risk for most companies what is the priceless asset they have: their brand value and trademark equity."
For years, Playboy’s indelible brand of men’s entertainment, long associated with its magazine, has been opportunistically seeping into global cracks of media delivery. But a quick scan of the company’s 2005 press releases reveals the seep is now more of a flood: In January, the company expanded its collection of branded retail stores to Las Vegas and Melbourne, Australia, an expansion of its $600 million consumer products business, and launched "iBod" for the iPod Photo; in August, the company announced the launch of a digital edition; in October, Playboy launched three more international editions;Playboy Ukraine , Slovakia and Argentina ;of its print magazine, bringing the total of global editions to 20; and last month, the company announced its own titular take on podcasting;"Bodcasts";allowing users to download such short-form audio and video content.
So how does Playboy make sure its brand is represented across a multitude of products, mediums and time zones? Hefner says it’s a combination of special task forces comprised of creative and business team members, localized faith in its regions and some old fashioned communication. Hefner points to regular meetings of a pair of internal task forces;a 6-person content task force and 12-member synergy group;formalized in 2002. "The idea is not only that everybody should know what everybody else is doing, but that wherever possible, we’d like to take an idea and have it expressed in different forms across all media," she says. "We’ve always believed you have to find the intersection between the brand and the medium, because people consume entertainment and information in different ways." On the business side, that intersection includes weeklong in-person meetings with global launch partners in the company’s Los Angeles and Chicago offices. Hefner cautions publishers who let their brand-gatekeeping slide. "Moving into other businesses is sometimes looked at as easy money;you sort of do the deals and collect the checks," says Hefner. "That’s a mistake."