PLAYBOY MAKES APPEAL TO YOUTH IN WEB SITE ADS: DOT-COM EFFORT WILL USE PRINT, OUTDOOR; DRIVE PRECEDES IPO

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Playboy Enterprises, bidding to make itself as essential to young men as Walt Disney Co. is to kids, is gearing up a major consumer advertising effort for its Playboy.com Web site.

The campaign, with spending estimated in the $5 million to $10 million range, aims at drawing in younger, more Internet-savvy readers. It will start in January and use outdoor in New York and Los Angeles and possibly Chicago.

In addition, a magazine buy including young men's books such as Bikini, Gear and Yahoo Internet Life also is under consideration.

Creative, from agency Ko-vel/Fuller, Los Angeles, will focus on a visual showing a dot taken from the artwork separating the Playboy rabbit head icon and the com ending for the Web address. Each ad will promote a specific event on the Playboy site.

BASKETBALL AND MARDI GRAS

For example, a basketball will be used as the dot in an ad for March Madness programming on the site. Other ads will back its Mardi Gras and other Internet events.

The consumer campaign will be preceded by a trade effort breaking this month that uses as dots the pimento-stuffed olive in a martini glass and the red tip of a cigar being smoked by a woman.

"What started as a magazine opens up to so much more," the ad's copy reads. The tag: "Playboy, the most powerful men's brand in the world."

Late last month, Playboy announced it plans to offer shares in its Web site in an initial public offering of stock expected early in 2000. Currently, the Web site has page views of about 80 million per month, with that number increasing to 100 million during major online events, said Cindy Rakowitz, VP-promotions for the magazine.

She said the goal is to bring some younger Internet users over to the Playboy fold as well as to enhance the ad value of the Web site.

The magazine, with a median reader age of 32.7, wants to increase the number of 18-to-34-year-old readers, said Ms. Rakowitz.

"That is our primary goal," she said.

The hipper images projected in the advertising also will be reflected in subtle, MTVlike shifts in Playboy's pages, Ms. Rakowitz said.

Playboy, which traditionally uses a tonier tack in its articles than rivals, is reasserting itself at a time when other publications -- such as Maxim, with its bad-boy image -- are making headway with young men.

Playboy's ad pages from January through September were up 8.6%, to 482 pages, compared to the year-earlier period.

Maxim, owned by Dennis Publishing in the U.K., eclipsed that with 612 pages during the same period, up 59.9%, according to Publishers Information Bureau.

BIGGER SUCCESS ON NEWSSTANDS

Playboy's biggest success, however, has been on newsstands, with an increase in single-copy sales of 44% for the first half of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Total Playboy circulation is 3.2 million on a guaranteed rate base of 3.15

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