CHICAGO: Following an extended dalliance with becoming a lifestyle brand, Playboy magazine is hiring in media and focussing on creating provocative, progressive content in a more enlightened era than its founding.

Though the company has significantly reduced its print run to just 6 issues a year from ten in 2017, it is enhancing its media offer. Now, with a further pivot to quarterly editions and an expanded online presence, the company has hired Julie Uhrman, formerly Lionsgate’s general manager of OTT Ventures, as president of media.

The new role will give Uhrman control over the company’s media offerings across all verticals and will build on the brand’s “progressive and provocative content”, Variety reported.

The news contrasts with reports in January that the company was considering canning the magazine in order to focus on the ‘World of Playboy’ following the founder Hugh Heffner’s death, per the Wall Street Journal. At the time, CEO Ben Kohn told the Journal, “We plan to spend 2018 transitioning it from a media business to a brand-management company.”

Licencing has been useful for the brand in territories like China, in which Playboy has never run the magazine, focussing instead on branded objects, nightclubs, and casinos.

However, since a July deal that saw Rizvi, a majority-owning private equity firm, buy the Heffner estate’s remaining 35% of the company, there is a renewed focus on editorial content. In the last year, the media division – including the magazine, adult subscription websites, and an adult pay-per-view channel – drove around half of the company’s $90 million overall revenue.

Meanwhile, the Playboy Club that opened earlier this month in New York is testing the brand’s very twentieth-century stance against the progressive political situation following the #MeToo movement. Critics have called the brand’s signature ‘Bunnies’, a “symbol of the past,” and described the club’s opening in 2018 as “completely tone deaf.”

Sourced from Variety, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian