The pandemic has been a challenging time for print, not least for lifestyle brand Playboy, who with their Spring 2020 edition said an emotional goodbye to their infamous magazine. But the iconic publication which has been delivering ‘entertainment for men’ and interviews with some of the worlds biggest stars since 1953 is by no means recoiling. Instead, the brand is getting a facelift and embracing modern consumer habits; that’s right, they’ve gone digital.
The creation of Centerfold
This October, whispers of what the brand’s revamped image will entail reached new heights when Playboy’s parent company PLBY Group unveiled its acquired social content platform Dream. In doing so, Playboy announced to the world its new reimagined self in the form of Centerfold.com. A new rival on the block for London-based social-media subscription service OnlyFans, Centerfold will serve as a space where creators can interact with their fans and build communities. Playboy CEO Ben Kohn illustrated that going digital will allow the brand to reach much larger audiences and further their new brand culture of promoting inclusivity.
What does the creation of Centerfold mean?
Whilst the creation of Centerfold.com signals a positive step for Playboy’s longevity, can an OnlyFans-esque future be as fruitful as they hope? Of course, by creating an online social space, Playboy can reach broader audiences and deliver information to people who may have struggled to purchase their publications. Going digital doesn’t just increase exposure; it elevates consumers’ ability to engage with the brand and forge communities around it. During the pandemic, OnlyFans reaped the rewards of this, but as the world begins to turn back to normality, will the virtual world remain as popular and is it as accessible as it’s made out to be? With a world craving tangibility, Playboy may have just jumped on the back of a trend that has reached its peak. The debate to go digital or not is complex, with many obstacles to traverse, but only time will tell whether or not the online world is our future or a passing phase.
Playboy’s Dive into NFTs
It isn’t just social media Playboy are interested in either; the brand is asserting its progressive roots by expanding its digital portfolio into the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Playboy’s first venture into the metaverse was in Spring 2021 when they released a genesis NFT drop called ‘Liquid Summer’ with artist Slimesunday. Off the back of this success, Playboy has dived headfirst into the Blockchain to create their new collection of Rabbitars.
A homage to their founding year of 1953, Playboy has released 11,953 Rabbitars, each unique in design and referencing specific aspects of the brand’s iconography and heritage. In keeping with Playboy’s ethos of selling a premier lifestyle, each Rabbitar will act as a digital key to the new, reimagined Playboy Club, providing owners access to members-only events, merchandise, artwork and more.
This modern Playboy Club certainly highlights a shift in membership identity, but to claim it is a more inclusive strategy, opening the brand to a broader audience may be a bit farfetched. Although promoted as a collection for both new and experienced members of the NFT community, purchasing a Rabbitar requires a MetaMask wallet. Shockingly, not many people have any clue what that is.
An inclusive club, or an exclusive enterprise
This modern Playboy Club certainly highlights a shift in membership identity, but to claim it is a more inclusive strategy, opening the brand to a broader audience may be a bit farfetched. Although promoted as a collection for both new and experienced members of the NFT community, purchasing a Rabbitar requires a MetaMask wallet, and all sales are via ETH and Fiat. Shockingly, not many people have any clue what any of that is. Although Playboy has launched a dedicated Discord server where they can talk you through the process of purchasing a Rabbitar, would someone who has never entered the metaverse before find this appealing, or is it just a collection for the uber-rich and tech-focused.
Amid a constantly evolving digital landscape, Playboy is grappling to stay relevant to the modern market. Creating a multi-platform digital presence is arguably their best strategy for success. Simultaneously utilising social media and investing in the metaverse, Playboy is revolutionising how we interact with a brand and moving past the era of just acquiring followers.