Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More on the Playboy "Strategic Repositioning" News: More Clubs

Chicago Tribune has an interview that fleshes out the earlier Folio: article in which new Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders said there'd be a strategic repositioning of the company, though print'd stay around.

The Trib article tells us where a big focus of the company will be going forward: Clubs. The one Playboy Club in existence, in Las Vegas, is apparently doing well, even in the recession.

Back in its heyday, Playboy had dozens of clubs, including huge (and musta-been expensive) resorts in New Jersey and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Years after Christie Hefner shut them down, she was asked about that, and she noted that Playboy had a good run with clubs; it's hard to make clubs (restaurants and entertainment venues) work for long, and Playboy had more than two decades of success before the market changed. (In particular, the idea of "key clubs" went out of fashion, though the company was also hurt by losing its lucrative casino gaming licenses.)

So this strategic repositioning is probably a smart move, re-adopting something that worked in its past, and it could be successful if the company properly updates the concept to the modern day. It seems to have been a big success at the Palms in Las Vegas, and there are plenty of other destination cities around the world where a Playboy Club could do quite well.

As for the flagship magazine, though Flanders seemed clear in the Folio: interview that the mag was here to stay, the Trib article puts up some parameters: "Playboy has no plans to shut the magazine, but has hinted at drastic cuts in frequency, circulation and pages. Playboy TV has room to grow, Flanders said, and the company's subscription Web sites have held their own against piracy and competition from free sites."

Of course, just like in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s, a successful destination entertainment business can help fuel the print side. There can be positive feedback in both directions. So, a rising tide here could life the print boat. Hopefully.

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