Monday, January 02, 2006

Infringement - Playboy (and some thoughts)

Consider the "Sexy Bany" bar in Daejeon, South Korea:

Infringement of the Playboy bunny is so common in the world, its almost a joke. In fact, personals I would say that such infringement has been one of its secret brand strengths. To use a cliche, imitation is truly a form of flattery in this case. The iconic bunny is...well symbolic of some form of "the good life" or even "the American dream". It seems that Playboy has figured this out, in a way.

The International Herald Tribune reports that Playboy announced they plan to launch a Indian version of the magazine that all us boys used to find hidden in his father's stuff (for me it was behind the box in the closet he kept his shoe shine stuff in). However it will not be an exact copy:

[It's] a magazine with its usual fare - except for its name and its nudes. The Indian version of Playboy would be Hugh Hefner meets Henry Ford: You can have any bunny you want, so long as she's clothed.
Wow, how great for the teenage boys of Mumbai, if they say they are reading it for the articles their mom may actually believe them. However they will have to come up with an excuse for why...[insert your own joke].

To get back to my point, the IHT article states the editorial theme for the magazine:
Christie Hefner has said the Indian version of the magazine "would be an extension of Playboy that would be focused around the lifestyle, pop culture, celebrity, fashion, sports and interview elements of Playboy." But the magazine would not be "classic Playboy"

As Playboy wakes up to the value of its brand as more of a lifestyle than an excuse to enjoy something else (ironically, something "Hef" has always stated, with a wink or not, was the real editorial theme of the magazine was). I wonder if in turn it will be more aggressive in protecting its trademarks on items it once gave little care to. Further, how will this translate globally.

Oddly, Playboy does not rank as a top 100 global brand. Which is odd, considering the amount of fame of the mark outside of markets we consider "western" or "developed". From clothes in China to perfumes in India the mark was deemed valuable enough to use ilicity.

The IHT article speculates that the Indian version may revolutionize the corporate culture. This is debatable, however one has to wonder if Playboy focus more on the "lifestyle" aspect, will they start protecting their name in "lifestyle" context. In short, are the "Sexy Bany's" days numbered?


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