Playboy was everywhere and it was so popular that people even got the logo tattooed. Its best selling issue was sold in over 7 million copies. In the early 2000s, there was not a single person who didn’t know about it.
However, it wasn’t so blissful and glamorous as it seemed. The Playboy Clubs are closed and magazine sales shrunk down to less than 4%. How did that happen?
Playboy – the beginning and the end
Hugh Hefner, a former copywriter saw a demand for men’s magazine back in 1953. He did the right thing at the right time and Hefner soon launched the Playboy. He put together the first magazine on his kitchen table as he didn’t have an office yet.
Hefner bought old photos of Marylin Monroe when she was posing under a pseudonym. She was on the cover but she never got paid for the debut. The first copy was a huge success and it was sold in 70,000 copies at $0.50 apiece.
Playboy was the first magazine that published coloured photographs of nude women. It also had a concept of ‘Playmate of the month’. It was always some girl that seemed ‘available’ and presented as a new secretary in your office or girl who sells you ties and shoes. The photo layouts would be the Playmate slowly removing cloths until being fully nude in the centrefold.
Hefner later established Playboy Clubs as well, turning the glamorous life marketed by the magazine into reality. There were 23 Playboy Clubs in the world and they all made a profit. However, all of them were closed by 1986. It turns out, they were losing money for years while marketing the unrealistic luxury.
The changing perception of the public started seeing it degrading to women instead of daring. When video porn became available in the 1980’s it took the business right out of Hefner’s hands. The Internet started to boom while Playboy didn’t adapt to the times.
Hefner had no choice but to sign up for a reality show which later contributed to pop culture in the 2000s. It didn’t help much as the logo isn’t worth as much anymore and the brand was at a loss for decades. Now, they are trying to make Playboy a bit different and more empowering towards women.