A handful of powerful brands are responsible for the vast majority of licensing in the adult licensing space. At this point, Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler are far removed from their publishing roots. These brands have been established internationally as lifestyle brands of their own accord. Often, licensed products for these brands forego the adult elements that one may associate with these brands.
“We look to build upon the established iconic brand that Hustler has become by reaching out to those consumers with crossover interests to make Hustler a true lifestyle brand without just pumping out adult content,” says Edward Bromberg, vice-president/general manager at Hustler/LFP Apparel.
The lifestyle focus for adult brands isn’t too much of a stretch. It was Hugh Hefner’s representation of the good life that fueled the success of Playboy over the years. To succeed, it isn’t just about creating the right image, but selling it.
“In a business that sells an image and a lifestyle, marketing is essential,” says Kevin Denberg, managing partner at Chippendales. “Good partners who are out and about representing your brand, constantly talking about it, generating buzz, and identifying obtainable targets are crucial.”
Expanding beyond the adult market opens these brands up to more attention, for better and for worse. The licensing industry is no stranger to counterfeiting and the harms it can do to a brand. In order to protect their brands, licensors in the adult licensing arena have to be diligent.
Playboy recently hired OpSec Security as an authentication partner. OpSec will supply the Playboy licensing program with security authentication labels that are affixed to product. “The reasons why Playboy signed this deal are threefold,” says Bill Patterson, vice-president of global licensing at OpSec. “First and foremost, you have to protect the brand. Financially, Playboy wants to make sure it is getting the royalties it is due. And Playboy wants to reduce the number of counterfeits.”
Especially when trying to sell a lifestyle, the integrity of the brand is of utmost importance. By hiring authentication partners and monitoring services, licensors in the adult licensing space are doing all they can to protect the equity that is the foundation of a lifestyle-based licensing program.
The biggest news from Playboy is that it was acquired by Icon Acquisition Holdings in March and was taken private. Hugh Hefner remains editor in chief and chief creative officer of Playboy and Scott Flanders continues to serve as CEO. Hefner and Flanders maintain equity stakes in Playboy through their ownership interest in Icon.
Hustler is looking to expand its product offerings by targeting each demographic market through retailers that provide product to each customer base. Its latest offerings include mixed martial arts and motocross products.
For Chippendales, the product categories that excel are those featuring images of the cast rather than branded logo gear. The 2012 Chippendales Calendar, from Trends International, will soon be available.