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Playboy's 'safe for work' digital play

News, 25 June 2015

NEW YORK: Adopting a "safe for work" strategy helped Playboy, the men's entertainment and lifestyle publisher, quadrupled traffic levels to its website in just four months.

While speaking at the ClickZ Live conference in New York, Robin Zucker – Playboy's svp/digital marketing – discussed how its audience had exploded following a digital relaunch late last year.

"It's really thanks to [being] PG-13 – safe for work," she said. (For more, including how the firm has adapted this strategy on social media, read Warc's exclusive report: Playboy's "safe for work" online reinvention.)

Such a significant increase, Zucker added, followed a period when the site had shifted away from the brand's core purpose.

"The company was taken private about four years ago, and in the process dramatically downsized, which also included licensing the website," she said.

"They licensed it to a company that was actually upselling to 'girl galleries' – which is the technical term for 'nude women'.

"So it just wasn't on-brand from the perspective that nudity is in our DNA, but it was a very different approach to it."

Reformulating this strategy to more fully reflect Playboy's heritage as an entertainment and lifestyle bible for men, however, effectively reversed its fortunes

"Part of my coming on board was figuring out: well, we need to develop an audience," said Zucker. "And we should really look at whether having a third party run our website for such a brand makes sense.

"And we came to the conclusion – with the support of the board – that it did not."

Having taken control of the website, the firm has made sure that nudity is not a feature of its digital platform – a revival then brought to life by a thoroughgoing content marketing program.

"Content is near and dear to our heart," Zucker said. "We're a really fortunate brand, in that we have a team of content people that are producing at least 20 pieces of content a day."

"It starts with our shareable stories," she continued. "It's the men's playbook. So it's everything entertainment. It's nightlife. It's style. It's girls. It's sex. It's culture."

Data sourced from Warc