Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Playboy Branding

I have always had great respect to the 1960's branding of Playboy. Hey, don't think I am creepy. It is a powerful brand. It reminds me a bit of the whole "Mad Men" series, all the great branding that was done in the 60's. Lately I am feeling like Kate Spade is doing a great job of replicating that same visual impact in their recent campaigns. I love the bold graphics.

Hugh Heffner most certainly had a vision in his mind. What brands that surround us right now, will have this kind of impact 40 years later?

How unlikely would it seem today, if someone were to tell you that they were planning to build one of the world's sexiest and most recognizable brands- with a logo based on a bunny? Well, that's exactly what Hugh Heffner did. Seriously, doesn't it sound kind of nuts? Looking back on the vintage images of the bunnies in their heyday, there is an undeniable naivete and corniness, mixed with an overtly demeaning attitude towards women- and wow, did it work.

Heffner was gifted with an ironic stroke of fate when the original "Stag Club" name that was going to grace his new men's magazine was legally blocked by Stag Magazine. He needed a new handle, and the stag was soon converted to the now iconic bunny, in a historic and innuendo-laden rename. Playboy later ran a pictorial article on Chicago's Gaslight Club, and was overwhelmed by thousands of readers requesting to join this exclusive key members club. Playboy execs smelled a golden opportunity, and soon plans were laid to open their own private key holder's club. All that was needed now was the vision.

After many go-rounds, the decided-upon bunny custom was nipped and fluffed until it met Heffner's critical approval. They say he was particularly smitten with the tail- go figure. In 1960, when the very first Playboy Club opened- the so-called icon of the sexual revolution was off and hopping.

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