Playboy, in latest pivot, is going public and selling products
It's been a pretty rocky few years for the Playboy brand
Its longtime business model of being a magazine that offers naked pictures has crashed into the 21st century reality of magazines being obsolete, and plentiful nudity being available basically everywhere for free. This led to years of much-publicized financial problems for Playboy’s parent company.
The magazine’s frequency has been reduced repeatedly, while founder Hugh Hefner took the company back over in 2011, taking it private. In 2015, the company made the controversial decision to remove full-frontal nudity, although it reversed that decision two years later. Hefner died in 2017, and then, earlier this year, Playboy Enterprises announced that the company had published its final print issue and was going online-only, while laying off its remaining editorial staff.
This week, a press release announced that Playboy is once again becoming a public company. Playboy Enterprises is merging with special purpose acquisition corporation Mountain Crest Acquisition Corp. The combined public company will be headed by Ben Kohn, who was already Playboy’s Chief Executive Officer.
The latest incarnation of Playboy appears to be reinventing itself as a lifestyle brand. The company’s product lines will include the “sexual wellness” category – “including intimacy products and lingerie”, along with style and apparel, gaming and lifestyle, and “Beauty & Grooming.”
““We are actively selling into the Sexual Wellness consumer category, projected to be approximately $400 billion in size by 2024, where our recently launched intimacy products have rolled out to more than 10,000 stores at major US retailers in the United States,” Kohn said in the announcement. “Combined with our owned & operated ecommerce Sexual Wellness initiatives, the category will contribute more than 40% of our revenue this year.”
The release did not announce anything about new content plans, or any type of relaunch of the magazine.
Playboy was a major part of the counterculture in the 1960s and ’70s, often featuring award-winning journalism alongside the spreads of attractive naked ladies. Hefner also booked Black comics at a clubs when others didn’t, and remained a cultural figure of consequence for decades. He even starred in a series of reality shows, featuring what was essentially a polygamist lifestyle with a coterie of girlfriends who lived with him in the Playboy Mansion.