Some brands can’t be reinvented. Indeed, mortality as well as vitality lie at the heart of branding. Take Playboy, which, in the space of a few months, has dropped the nude models that made it famous in the early 70s (selling 7 million plus), then, last week, plonked them back on the newsstand (total sales: around one-fourteenth of those glory days).
I liked the comment of one analyst, Samir Husni. “Nudes were the brand, so if one day you remove them, then you technically kill the brand image. Playboy with no nudes was an oxymoron.” But the brute problem is that Playboy with nudes is a dead loss too.
Just look at the latest round of UK magazine sales and ask yourself what happened to the likes of Zoo and Nuts, which once dominated the men’s mag market. They’re gone – to the internet, to Instagram (where a whole new world of “models” awaits), to Twitter and the social rest. The market has simply moved on. With or without bare bunnies, Playboy has run out of road.
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