By Chloe Aiello
Playboy Enterprises may be nearly 70 years old, but Nicole Levinson, senior vice president of Brand Marketing and Partnerships for Playboy Club New York, says the brand is still fresh enough to attract millennial "titans" to its high-end clubs.
"When you think about the millennial generation ... there's this idea that you have to be thought-provoking in today's day and age, you have to push boundaries and break barriers and that's all about what Playboy stands for," Levinson told Cheddar Thursday.
The Playboy Club, a sister brand to Playboy Enterprises, re-opened for business in Manhattan's Midtown West neighborhood last September after shuttering in the late '80s due to waning popularity.
Just a year before the New York club lifted its velvet ropes, the #MeToo movement erupted, igniting a national conversation about gender, sexual assault, and harassment.
Levinson said "it was not intentional to open up during #MeToo," but the club and its iconic bunnies are not at odds with the movement.
"Hugh Hefner was a huge supporter of human rights ー he supported women's rights, African American rights, gay and lesbian rights," Levinson said, adding that it all really starts with the bunnies.
"Our women feel empowered, they feel confident. They put on the [bunny] costume and get very excited. They say they feel like Wonder Woman."
The club may be at odds, however, with millennial bank accounts.
Memberships at the exclusive club start at $5,000 per year, with premium memberships going for as much as $100,000. Those higher tier memberships, according to the website, include perks like chauffeur service to and from the club, tickets to Playboy and sporting events, complimentary hotel stays, and access to VIP rooms within the club.
Whether the Playboy Club brand, and its high cost of entry, will attract millennials in 2019 remains to be seen, but the Playboy Club is actively pursuing them ー and that means making use of new advertising tools, like Instagram.
"We want to attract everyone ー everyone from the worlds of fashion, technology, real estate, media entertainment," Levinson said, adding that they wouldn't stick to any particular demographic.
"In order to do that you obviously have old traditional marketing ways, like public relations, but we really try to focus on Instagram."
The club is also making a push internationally, particularly in Asia, launching on WeChat and Weibo.
This is hardly Playboy's first push to revamp an image some have called stale, sexist, and outdated. In 2016, Playboy made a bold decision to eliminate nudity from its magazines, but reversed the change less than a year later. Hugh Hefner's son Cooper Hefner, then the new chief creative officer, called the decision to completely remove nudity "a mistake," according to the BBC.
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