Playboy skews younger in ads to update image

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Playboy Enterprises, about to launch its first consumer corporate branding campaign, is mulling an ad saluting President Clinton for enabling others to become more at ease with sexuality.

A print ad under development for Playboy shows a picture of the White House with a headline: "The revolution isn't over, it's just beginning . . ." The tagline, also subject to internal tinkering, is "Life, liberty and the pursuit of fantasy."

Copy, taking a philosophical bent, notes Americans are non-judgmental about President Clinton's problems with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, and are focused instead on his job performance.


The ad is being considered as part of a corporate branding campaign being launched this week that's intended to help the 3.2 million-circulation men's monthly reach a younger audience and update its image.

The campaign was handled by Kovel Kresser & Partners, Venice, Calif., Playboy's new agency of record.

The first ad, scheduled to run April 29 in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, pays tribute to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner on his induction into the American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame.

The planned White House ad follows an editorial by Mr. Hefner in the May issue of Playboy in which he declares: "We have a playboy in the White House."

Another proposed ad shows a gay couple with a baby.

"It will help remind people Playboy is a brand that is very contemporary," said Bob Perkins, chief marketing officer at Playboy Enterprises. "The sexual revolution is in the process of being redefined, and Playboy is in the process of doing that."


"It's not about sex, it's about attitude," said Lee Kovel, managing director/chief creative officer at Kovel Kresser.

Before Playboy hired Kovel Kresser, Leap Partnership's Chicago office worked with the publishing company to identify challenges facing the brand and develop a corporate strategy.

The new ad effort, with spending expected to exceed $2 million this year, is slated to grow to include outdoor and consumer magazines such as Icon and Time Out New York. The campaign also will include cable TV spots that focus on upcoming Playboy issues.

Playboy has been in a battle to draw more mainstream advertisers, particularly in categories such as automotive.

One veteran ad executive said young female media buyers shun Playboy because of its nude photos, adding some advertisers that put it on their plans are scared away "after they get three letters of complaints."

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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