The Playboy bunny case study

Playboy, as we all know, is a popular men’s magazine that features photos of nude women along with journals and work of fiction.

The magazine was first founded in Chicago in 1953 by Huge Hefner, partly funded by a $1000 loan from Hefner’s mother. It has been said that Hefner set about starting the playboy magazine after being denied a $5 raise as an Esquire copywriter. This first edition of Playboy was 44-pages long and had no date on its cover because Hefner wasn’t sure there would be a second edition. This first edition of the magazine is also the only Playboy that does not have Hugh Hefner’s name inside.

In the first edition of Playboy, we see Marilyn Monroe posing completely nude. Monroe did not pose nude specifically for Playboy; Hefner had purchased the picture from a local printer who made calendars.

In an interview Hefner explained his choice of a rabbit as Playboy’s:

“The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning, and I chose it because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping – sexy. First it smells you then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking. She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a young, healthy, simple girl – the girl next door . . . we are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy. The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water, and she is happy”

In addition to its centrefold piece, a major part of Playboy for much of its existence has been the Playboy Interview, an extensive discussion between a notable individual and an interviewer. Playboy features monthly interviews of notable public figures, such as artists, architects, economists, composers, conductors, film directors, journalists, novelists, playwrights, religious figures, politicians, athletes and race car drivers.

In addition, the magazine also has a long history of publishing short stories by notable novelists such as Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov, Chuck Palahniuk, P. G. Wodehouse and Margaret Atwood.

The company went public in 1971, and the magazine’s circulation peaked in 1972 at more than 7 million. Playboy has seen a decline in circulation and cultural relevance because of competition in the field it founded—from Penthouse, Oui and Gallery in the 1970s; later from pornographic videos. In response, Playboy has attempted to re-assert its hold on the 18–35 male demographic through slight changes to content and focusing on issues and personalities more appropriate to its audience.

The magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary with the January 2004 issue. Celebrations were held at Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and Moscow during the year to commemorate this event.

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