Sexist brand icon Playboy gets with the program

Playboy ears branding agency Melbourne

The power of re-imagining a brand icon.

In a shift that has even me surprised, iconic global brand Playboy has moved with the times, evolving from a ‘sexist and proud of it’ brand proposition to one of understanding and tolerance. Playboy CMO and Rachel Webber describes the brand’s mission as; “To support everyone—regardless of gender—in their freedom to love”. Wow!

It turns out, this is not new ground for Playboy. They have been supporting the LGBTQ community for at least a couple of years, but with the launch of their ‘Pride Is Good’ campaign as part of Pride month in the U.S., they’ve taken it up a notch. Pride is Good aims to raise awareness for a “50 bills 50 states” movement created by The Trevor Project, an organization providing suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youths. And to celebrate, Playboy have invited seven queer artists—Seth Bogar, Winston Ellion, Sarah Maxwell, Nina Palomba, C. Finley, Loveis Weiss and Favianna Rodriguez to create a collection of inspired ‘Bunny Ears’ and a series t-shirts featuring their artwork to advocate The Trevor Project’s aim to end controversial conversion therapy.

Pride is Good bunny ears and Tees will be available from and at a pop-up shop at NYC’s WorldPride from 19 June to 23 June.

Few brands have had such a distinct and driving need to completely change the platform and purpose of their brand to the extent Playboy has. In a world of dramatically changing views on sex and respect for individual sexuality, Playboy faced the real risk of losing all relevance with the markets that had built the brand into a global icon. This move shows some real smarts from the business leaders, but also demonstrates how a brand with genuine intent can remain relevant by shifting with changing consumer sentiment.

From a brand design perspective, we’ve seen a number of brands over the last twelve months re-imagine their branding assets such as this recent for-purpose campaign by Lacoste. One of the advantages in having a brand identity professionally designed and investing in the awareness of your branding assets is the ability to then leverage them as Playboy have done so well here.

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Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a Melbourne branding agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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Pics courtesy Playboy.

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