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Brand Bible by Debbie Millman

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BRAND BIBLE220
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1 8
Playboy,
would seem to have little in common.
All three are media icons, to be sure,
but they have vastly dierent takes
on what is meaningful content. Yet,
there is commonality: Each began the
vision of a single person and sought to
create brand experiences that tapped
into cultural mythologies. The brands
comprise empires that transcend
mere media conglomerates; they used
rich storytelling and compelling
narratives to reach audiences; and they
branched out into numerous media,
giving consumers dierent ways
to experience and participate in the
brand narrative.
T h e evoluTion
of MulTiMedia
Brands and
B ey o n d

and
a Brand
called you

Coee cup featuring
the iconic Playboy
bunny logo (top)
Matchbooks for
the Playboy Club
(bottom)
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

Playboy magazine started as a countercultural
publication. Having observed the cultural trends
and publishing milieu of the early 1950s, Hugh
Hefner recognized there was need (and space)
for a men’s magazine that addressed the sensibil-
ity of the postwar generation. Taking a swipe at
the buttoned-up, Puritan ideals that prevailed in
American culture, Hefner sought to give men a
glimpse into an alternative lifestyle rooted in free-
dom of choice rather than cultural mandate. Poli-
tics, humor, women; these topics became Playboy’s
focus. Hefner produced the rst issue of Playboy
magazine—featuring a now famous photo of Mari-
lyn Monroe on the cover—on a kitchen table in his
Chicago apartment.
1
When that rst issue sold
more than 50,000 copies, it was clear that Hefner
had tapped into a mythology that was deeply
captivating. The sophisticated mix of photogra-
phy, journalism, interviews, and essays from the
nation’s top writers at the time began to solidify
Playboy as no less than an outlet of freedom.
Within the decade, the magazine would see a rise
in sales to over 1 million copies per month and the
debut of the rst Playboy Jazz Festival in Chicago.
Hefner and the beloved bunny symbol became the
icons of “the good life,” as Hefner began to further
embody his version of the lifestyle depicted in
Playboy’s pages, and as the brands enterprises
evolved into an empire. Hefner, Playboys smok-
ing-jacket-clad prime minister, oversaw a massive
expansion of the brand into numerous clubs,
resorts, and casinos in the 1970s. He bought and
sold mansions that became epicenters for the
brand lifestyle. Understanding the importance
and market potential—of extending the brand
Hefner and the beloved bunny symbol
became the icons of “the good life.
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into as many platforms as possible, Hefner was
among the pioneers of paid television with the
1982 launch of Playboy TV. The company produced
lms, records, events, television shows, licensed
goods, and much more.
2
Though the transitions may not have always been
smooth (the brand has weathered nancial crises,
consolidations, and broad technological shifts
during its almost sixty years of existence), the
brand’s core mythology remained, allowing for its
expansion into numerous media. Weaving through
all the brands extensions, touchpoints, and plat-
forms, however disparate the elements may seem,
has been an invitation to partake in the good life.
Whether rubbing elbows with Playmates past at
the Playboy Club in Las Vegas, enjoying a night
under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl for the Play-
boy Jazz Festival, or simply browsing the collec-
tion of every issue ever published on the iPlayboy
iPad app (for the articles, of course), Hefners belief
in freedom and his vision of the Playboy lifestyle
are omnipresent.

The year 1973 was important for daytime televi-
sion. The Phil Donahue Show, based in Dayton,
Ohio, was in its second year of national syndica-
tion and on its way to becoming one of the highest-
rated talk shows of the next decade. In Nashville,
Tennessee, the local WTVF-TV took a chance on
a youthful African-American woman to anchor
the news, ushering in a number of rsts for the
station. The nineteen-year-old Oprah Winfrey
would become not only Donahue’s biggest rival,
but the nation’s most inuential talk-show host.

Oprah Winfrey, the
queen of all media

Phil Donahue and
Margaret Mead,
1972
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