POSITIONING PLAYBOY Written by Alan Goodman for Fred/Alan, Inc., New York 1989 WHAT IS POSITIONING? The process that defines a brand for consumer recognition and acceptance. A brand is said to be positioned when it occupies a slot in a consumer's brain no other product can occupy. Successful positioning either creates a new slot or unseats the incumbent. EXAMPLES OF POSITIONING • Avis couldn't be # 1. But they could be better by trying harder. Their position eliminated Hertz for customers who cared about caring. It gave Avis identity and direction. • 7-Up created a new slot called the un-cola. Being what nothing else was, gave 7-Up identity and direction. • Sprite created a whole new fruit to develop their positioning. They're the only soft drink with Lymon--a marketable difference, even if it's entirely manufactured. • MTV uses the positioning statement "MTV vs. normal TV," and Nickelodeon uses "us vs. them" ("us kids vs. adult world"). In these instances, the positioning statement isn't advertising. It is used to measure decisions about everything including advertising, on-air promotion, contesting, programming, casting, licensing, even staffing and acceptance of paid advertising. Positioning statements should identify a consumer need from the consumer's point of view and not the marketers, and are generally at their best when they develop very naturally from the product itself. "Un-cola" was staring 7-Up right in the face. Like many other positioning statements, it was just absolutely unsurprising. And right. A PLACE TO START: PLAYBOY, THE MAGAZINE It established the trademark. It is, and will remain, the flagship brand. All other products and services are a reflection of its contents. THE DIFFICULTY IN POSITIONING PLAYBOY Most positioning statements try to define one thing. 7-Up is a colorless, lemon-lime beverage. MTV was positioned as a television service before other trade-mark products were introduced. And Playboy is a magazine: but it is also so many different things, all with different characters and appeal. Our mission, is to establish a position for expansion and diversification, but we have to start somewhere. NARROWING THE FIELD: THE MAGAZINE AND ITS ENVIRONMENT MAGAZINES TARGETING MEN: The business and news magazines own events and financial analysis. They offer little in the way of entertainment, and cover lifestyle trends after they are finished. Sports Illustrated, Car and Driver, Field and Stream are single-minded in another respect. They own sports, cars and outdoor activity. But barely cover anything else. GQ owns fashion. Esquire owns literature and high achievement. But it's intimidating -- almost too literate -- and way down the list in popularity. Penthouse and the other skin books own gynecology. MAGAZINES TARGETING MEN Each owns something, and yet offers very little of what the others provide. But what can Playboy own? Let's start with what people think Playboy is. KIND WORDS PEOPLE USE TO DESCRIBE PLAYBOY MAGAZINE High-quality. Braphically excellent. Well-defined. Entertainment for men. A lifestyle magazine. "I only read it for the articles." Full of sex. UNKIND WORDS PEOPLE USE TO DESCRIBE PLAYBOY MAGAZINE Hedonistic and sinful. Institutionalized and old-fashioned. Air-brushed. (Unreal) The girls in it are bimbos, the guys who read it are jerks. Full of sex. (Sexist) HOW THE WORLD OF PLAYBOY CONTRADICTS PERCEPTIONS "High-quality" -- where does the scented cardboard car freshener fit in? "Graphically excellent" -- how do the real limitations of videotape production limit the opportunity to match on tape and cable shows the excellence and trend-setting nature of the magazine? "Well-defined" -- then why are so many of the licensed products so shocking to so many who think they know Playboy? "Entertainment for men" -- Entertainment? With reasonable, documented, passionate articles and opinion on First Amendment rights, personal freedoms and the inconsistencies of those who would curtail them; informative articles on medical news, fitness, and healthy sex; advice for people who want to know they're okay, or how to get that way? Only if Time Magazine or The Nation are to be considered entertainment publications, or visiting a shrink is done for fun. "Lifestyle" -- whose? Playboy serves such a wide constituency, with so many different aspirational needs, there are bound to be pieces that don't fit any individual. "Full of sex" -- Not as full as the real sex books. And full of so much else. MORE CONTRADICTIONS "Sexist" -- where do the advisor's answers fit in, which advocate nothing but considerate, consentual, romantic practice? How does Candice Bergen or even Morgan Fairchild fit in? How does it fit in that thousands of women fight to be in there? "Sinful" -- how does it fit in that so many people who want to be good have attitudes so similar to the attitudes of the Playboy Philosophy? "Institutionalized and Old-fashioned" -- How does it fit in that Playboy is irreverent not only toward other institutions but also toward itself, something institutions rarely risk? How does it fit in that 35 years later, it is still reviewing the newest music, monitoring with vigor the most important legal issues, still publishing important new fiction and illustration, profiling the most appealing new products, and reaching the most desirable young adult demographics? "Air-brushed" -- how does it fit in that those are real women? How does it fit in that the only fantasy in Playboy is how the real world it depicts is the source of fantasies in our minds? "Bimbos and jerks" -- is Barbara Walters a bimbo? Or Geena Davis? Or Joyce Carol Oates? Is Jean Shepard a jerk? Or P.J. O'Rourke? Or Ramsey Clark? And even if some of the women aren't rocket scientists and some men never read the front of the book, are they any less human or decent? DEALING WITH THE CONTRADICTIONS Nobody's opinions about the magazine are wrong. They are just incomplete. Just exactly what is in this magazine? And what is the world of Playboy? ONE ISSUE'S EVIDENCE THE "BOLD BACK TO CAMPUS" ISSUE • All the "front of the book stuff" (books, movies, records, videos, a woman's column, a sports column) • Playboy advisor (techniques, practices, video taping, wine, cameras) • An expose of Donald Wildmon's dark side • News about art and censorship, other first amendment issues, bathing suits, police-brutality and more, plus reader response. • AIDS column • A really deep discussion of the Playboy attitude toward sex and feminism through response to Erica Jong. • Fashion forecast • Keith Richards interview (literate, informed, not middle brow) • College Women talking about sex (informative, valuative, not titillating or entertaining) • A beautiful naked woman • A college fiction writer (winner of contest) and illustration winners • Products • Another beautiful naked woman • Jokes • Article by guy who wrote Animal House, revealing its demented source and the joy in it (and, incidentally, filled with facts) • Football preview • Beautiful naked woman (barber) • Fiction • Article about fine cigars • Beautiful naked women • Interview with Geena Davis • Cool sneakers • Gossip (grapevine) • Potpourri (more products) • (plus cartoons and ads) THIS IS A MAGAZINE THAT'S LOADED PLAYBOY PROPERLY READ The Playboy attitude about sex is, it's natural. It's beautiful, consenting pleasure. It's something you can learn to do better from advice and exposure to others' experiences. And in a mature male's world, it is not the only thing that's important. PLAYBOY PROPERLY READ The Playboy attitude about travel, entertainment reviews, the revealing articles and interviews is, find out more. Don't take the typical vacation, search out the offbeat. Don't just read, watch or listen to popular entertainment, learn about something challenging and new. Don't just settle for People Magazine or Entertainment Tonight, really find out about important personalities from Playboy's great, revealing interviews that can actually force you to consider your attitudes. Because in a mature male's world, choice means informed choice, adventurous choice, and the confidence to take risks. But entertainment and leisure pursuits are not the only thing. PLAYBOY PROPERLY READ The Playboy attitude about men's service is, buy the best. Look your best. At least, know about the best. Try something new. It's aspirational. It encourages experimentation and analysis. Because in a mature male's world, attention is paid to style and good grooming. Having flair and character are important, but having it is not the only thing. PLAYBOY PROPERLY READ The Playboy Philosophy is not Hugh Hefner's philosophy. It means any reader's informed philosophy. Because Playboy accepts attitudes, it doesn't promote them. In a mature male's world, different points of view are welcome, discourse is welcome, change is welcome. But so is conviction, integrity, and honesty. "My" point of view is important, but it is not the only thing. POSITIONING PLAYBOY Playboy incorporates all these elements, for mature men who have already arrived at some sense of their own personal style, are comfortable with their achievements but are still reaching for more, and are accepting of new information. It is for mature men who know the value of respect for others, involvement in issues and legal affairs, exchange of information and opinion. It is for mature men who delight in pleasurable experiences. It is also for men who want to be like these mature men. The rite of passage that teaches an individual reader how to be an individual man. In a world of single purpose magazines, it is the only magazine that tries to balance all the important affairs of the mind and heart of a man. POSITIONING STATEMENT Nothing comes closer to the hearts and minds of men. TO FEED A MAN'S HEART AND MIND: He should be exposed to as much as Playboy exposes him to. He should measure it against his own sense of ethics and values. He should incorporate what interests him or coincides with his views, and leave out what doesn't appeal to him. He should have a magazine that respects his ability to reason. He should be someone who respects women. And someone women appreciate for his open mind, courtesy, wit, intelligence and adventurous spirit. DOES THE POSITIONING FIT EXISTING BUSINESSES? EXISTING VIDEO CATALOG PLAYBOY TAPES Centerfold "Calendar" Massage Fantasies Bedtime Stores ("for couples") Girls of Rock and Roll Party Jokes Dorothy Stratten THEATRICAL FEATURES Angel Heart Bolero About Last Night Working Girls Emmanuelle in Soho Body Heat STRIP TEASE TAPES (Girls of Malibu, Sheer Heaven, Love is a Dancer, etc.) OTHER Businesswoman's Guide to Dirty Jokes Unexpected Encounters Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Video Guaranteed Ways to Pick up Women DOES THIS APPEAL TO THE HEART AND MIND OF MAN? OR JUST ONE PART? CAN A NEW VIDEO CATALOG INCLUDE: More business self-help Sex self-help and dating More Playboy advisor Auto and other collector items Bar and entertaining Sport highlight and humor Grooming Videos that appeal to all the affairs of man's heart and mind. EXISTING LICENSED PRODUCTS ("Products for Good Times" -- !?!) Lingerie Body Tatoos Enchanted Evening Board Game Water-powered lighted shower head Fake fur throws Satin sheets Nugget (and other) watches [Sport, rhinestone, moon] Zirconia Bracelets, key earrings, rabbithead 14k gold Personalized cover Leather jackets T-shirts (celeb) and sports "Bar"Noculars Moonies Queen of Heart Sweatshirts Black leather jacket (on sale!) TOO MANY DOWNSCALE PRODUCTS. AVAILABLE ELSEWHERE. OUT-DATED. COMPARE ELECTRONIC ITEMS IN CATALOG TO ELECTRONIC ITEMS PROFILED IN MAGAZINE. IN THE CATALOG: Pest Raider II (complete with drawing of fleeing mouse in suspenders!) Dog Dazer (illustration style incompatible with fleeing mouse) IN THE MAGAZINE: Canon 8mm video camcorder Language Master speaking dictionary Vespa scooters Mitsubishi rack systems A NEW CATALOG FOR THE HEART AND MIND OF MAN: Would include more items like the Playboy Pinball Machine (at $2900.00) -- expensive, aspirational, harmless hedonism. Would include electronics like those in Sharper Image, Hammacher Schlemmer, or the magazine itself-- cutting edge, well-designed, for discriminating buyers. Would have one or two $50 watches, and a few at $5000.00 -- for wide appeal, and to educate consumers' taste. Would allow leopard print bikinis and Queen of Hearts sweats only if terrific-looking, useful sports fashions followed -- in fashion, Playboy image, appeals to women. Would match the design excellence known to Playboy, not the Lillian Vernon catalog. Or the catalog should cease to exist. EXISTING CABLE CHANNEL PLAYBOY AT NIGHT Video Centerfolds Phone Sex Girls Australia Romantic Massage The Sensuous Nurse Electric Blue Ribald Classics Lingerie Erotica And on and on -- plus, "A Night Full of Rain," -- stars Candice Bergen! Not a list developed for the heart and the mind. OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAYBOY LINE EXTENSION MOVIE BUSINESS Playboy could have made: Body Heat Terminator About Last Night When Harry Met Sally Bolero (Romance Novels) (Adult themes, adventurous, sexy, star packages, appeal for men and women) Playboy should not make exclusively: Call Girls Malibu Beach Girls (Expected, exploitation, dumb) OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAYBOY LINE EXTENSION A Playboy Database A service to connect subscribers to entrepreneurs and marketers of products and services. (Electronics information, record album finders, party planners, catalog sales, business news and information, art prints and fashion, entertainment reviews, on-line Playboy Advisor, gifts, etc.) OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAYBOY LINE EXTENSION A Playboy Travel Service To plan and execute exciting, adventurous, unexpected vacations to out-of-the-way places for spirited couples. OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAYBOY LINE EXTENSION A Playboy Book Imprint Business, fiction, entertaining, bar, travel, art books, erotica, all with Playboy style, gloss, design and importance. OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAYBOY LINE EXTENSION Women as an audience Cable channel Include more short-form programming that replicates the magazine's coverage of fashion, leisure and products. Entertaining interstitial material. Up to two hours per night of romance fiction geared to this audience. Videos "Short subjects" before the features covering other aspects of the world of Playboy besides sex. (Should be creating to appeal to both sexes.) Flats Special issues that cover more than just Redheads and Leopard Skins. Why not Photography, Electronics, Fashion and Travel? Why not sexy Women's Fashion? SUMMARY Playboy can re-define itself for a wide range of audiences and provide a similar side range of products and services by concentrating on the elements that made it successful in the first place: Product quality and fine design, a sense of fun and adventure, cutting edge fashion for men who value personal style, provocative entertainment and comment, irreverent attitude, regard for the business affairs of contemporary men, love of women and love for life. It is completely compatible with the history of Playboy. And a foundation for the future in an era where men and women can contribute to Playboy's fortunes. The End.
"Positioning of Playboy"