What we can learn from Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner is the founder and owner of Playboy Enterprises one of the most successful media companies on earth and one of the most recognized “brand names”, too.
Hugh Hefner started his career in 1953 and he was only at his late twenties. In his first editions of Playboy magazine he used “nude pictures” because they disrupted the status quo. In 2016, world changes and for the same reason he decided to stop publishing nude photos.
We can say that it was unthinkable a generation ago, Playboy without nude photos but now it’s a reality. Now, its time to observe the results of this decision.
- The traffic of Playboy website was increased by 400%
- Playboy web site received one billion page views in the first five months after the decision to stop nude photos
- The nude – free Playboy magazine sold over 50% more ads.
Nowadays, nudity is everywhere there is no need any more to restrict the Playboy creativeness by using only nude photos. As we know in the beginning Playboy has been known for its in – depth interviews, investigate journalism and fiction. I continue to believe these are the main assets of Playboy.
Hugh Hefner in Chicago – Playboy early days
Marketers believe that the decision of Hugh Hefner to change his policy about the nudity on his media is focused and related on the following three pillars.
- Focus on younger audience not only the older
The majority of brands face the same problem. Nowadays Millennials are 80 to 95 million strong in
alone making them the largest demographic. It’s very simple without them a company can’t survive. When Playboy was publishing nude photos the average age of web site was 47 years old , now it’s 30. United States
- Focus on your biggest profit center
The majority of readers believe Playboy is a magazine business. No it’s not. Playboy has many profit centers but the most profitable of them is the “brand name”. Playboy Group generates hundred of million in earning because of licensing deals. It’s known that Playboy is in the licensing business – for everything from cologne to jewelry.
To build a strong brand is very difficult and hard. But it can be achieved because its incredibly valuable.
- Look at the future, old tricks and methods don’t sell
By stopping publishing nude photos playboy changed by an “adult” web site to an “entertainment” web site. We can say that today Playboy is among the top brands on earth.
Hugh Hefner wants to be on top and for this he needs the – Millennials – so he created a media with “sharable” content.
|Hugh Hefner July 1963 – Playboy early days|
Pillars of Hugh Hufner’s business philosophy
Hugh Hefner keeps being among the winners on the game and he will create even more in the future. The core of his business thinking can de summarized in the following principles not just for the past twelve months but also from the beginning of his business career.
- Don’t be pushover
Mr Hufner was working as copywriter for Esquiremagazine and she asked for a salary raise. But his boss denied his request. Mr Hufner did a very simple thing, started to think about his own publication. If he was a pushover he won’t be a Media Emperor as he is today but just an average people like billions on earth.
- Take risk but learn to manage risk
Mr Hufner started Playboy by borrowing $ 8,000 from 45 different investors. Beyond the financial risk he took also another chance related with the media, because he decide to run an infamous nude calendar photo of Marilyn Monroe.
In 1953, was an open secret that Marilyn Monroe the world – famous actress had been photographed nude before she became a star, it was a common knowledge that the photo existed.
Mr. Hefner dared to publish the “nude” photo of “Marilyn Monroe” and it was a huge success, all the copies of the first print run was sold immediately.
- Diversify the business ventures
After his success with Playboy in publishing industry, Mr Hefner did what the majority of real entrepreneurs do “they always strike when the iron is hot” and he expand and enlarge the concept of his business activity beyond magazine.
He launched several ventures, expanding business massively. As I know he started two TV programs and two other magazines, failed but he continued to expand the brand by creating a chain of members – only nightclubs and several casinos.
|Hugh Hefner with Playmate – Playboy’s logo on Airlane|
- Stick to your morals
The success of Playboy like a magnet attracted the interest of competition. We can mention magazines such as Hustler and Penthouse but they forced a trend in industry to reveal images and pushing the boundaries even further.
The majority of the average publishers would follow the competition and would have been to go head to head with the new competitors and try to beat them at their own game. Mr Hefner is not the average publisher and even more he is not the average entrepreneur, instead of considering to be “lowbrow” content, he focused on improving the literary conten of the magazine, including articles from esteemed writers such as Tennessee Williams, P.G. Wodehouse and Ken W. Purdy.
The high quality articles created a competitive advantage for Playboy and as a result the magazine was considered a much more sophisticated option for the young gentleman, rather than a smutty dose of profligate.
- Create a strong brand
The famous Playboy’s bunny was designed by Art Paul the first director of Playboy. Mr Hefner believed that a logo like Playboy bunny would differentiate it from other publications and when he wanted to keep the element of sophistication it was very simple he dressed the bunny in tuxedo. So, simple by dressing Playboy bunny in tuxedo you enforce the element of sophistication and on the other hand by dressing models “Playmates” like Playboy bunnies you enforce the element of the uniqueness.
Two years after the circulation of the first magazine Playboy started to market cufflinks featuring the Playboy bunny and it was the first of a large number of licensed products to reach the market out of the brand. As I mention above Playboy’s logo is among the top brand logos on earth beside Coca Cola, Nike, McDonalds, and Apple. Now days Playboy’s logo can be found everywhere from clothing, to glassware, to jewellery and other luxury goods.
|Hugh Hefner with Playmates|
- Know when to ask for help
The 80s was a tough period for Playboy, the company faced the closure of a number of casinos, a drop in magazine circulation and in 1985 Mr. Hefner suffered by a stroke.
Then Mr. Hefner decided to step down from his role of running the day – to – day operations and handed it to his daughter. With the leadership of Christie Playboy diversify the articles on a large range of topics and the company grew as a whole with the launch of a premium TV channel and membership web site.
Mr Hefner is a charismatic entrepreneur. We always learn from him, is a grand master for people who want to create and be above the average.