Playboy Turns Fluffy Tail Toward NightlifeOctober 15, 2009 By: Bryan Bass
With three months under his belt at the helm of Hef’s Playboy Enterprises Inc., new CEO Scott Flanders has set in motion a new corporate mantra that is putting a media concentration on the back-burner and focusing on bringing beautiful bunnies to a town near you — and soon. Flanders unveiled his new plans to the Chicago Tribune last week, keying in on product licensing and a return of Playboy Clubs, formerly a staple of the Bunny empire.
Flanders has plans for rolling out “double-digit” venues over the next few years, signaling what would be a return to the brand’s roots; Playboy once boasted nearly 30 venues worldwide. Today, the Playboy Club brand lives on with a high-end lounge and gaming venue located at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. That venue has been a well-received re-launch of the brand and successful in spite of the economic environment. While the Palm’s Playboy Club may be the first of many, it didn’t become a reality because Hef or former CEO daughter Christie Hefner had plans for reviving the brand. Instead, it was the long-standing ties between Hef and N9NE Group owner Michael Morton, whose father Archie was Hef’s operating partner in the Playboy Club’s original go-around (The Palm’s Playboy Club is a partnership between Hef, Morton and Palms owner George Maloof).
Soon after a successful October 2006 launch, Christie announced plans for a second outpost, which would bring the storied brand to the Asian gambling mecca of Macau. Those plans seemed to slowly dissipate in the months following, especially once the global economy took a hit. With Flanders now in the top seat, it appears nightlife is the company’s road of choice back to success, not the digital media or television channels that have been its main focus in recent years. While he is also looking for a return to the high-end licensing arena to play a major role in Playboy’s new era, it’s clear nightlife is his main focus.
Plans for a Playboy Club in Macau now appear to going full steam again, with an anticipated 2011 opening. Additionally, Flanders announced that new Playboy Club venues would be opening in both Mexico and Miami next year and he isn’t stopping there, telling the Chicago Tribune, “There is no segment of our business that will grow as rapidly as our location-based entertainment.” With 1 million former ‘key-holding’ members around the world and a new generation eager to experience a taste of Hef’s good life, it would seem as though the bunny tail has never been fluffier.