Playboy Takes Soft Approach to Hard Content

Playboy TV wants both viewers and cable operators to realize that it runs explicit sexual content, but the network is relying on G-rated spots to get the message across.

Last week, Playboy launched a marketing campaign built around a new “up for anything” tagline. Created by ad agency Red Tettemer, the goal of the print ads and cross-channel spots is to drive awareness that Playboy TV’s 24-hour channel and pay-per-view content are more risqué than what is found in Playboy magazine.

“The tagline 'up for anything’ is supposed to resonate with our young male audience,” Playboy TV vice president of marketing Dotty Ewing said. “It really fits in with our young men’s attitude about being free about the things they want to do and being a little edgy at times as well.”

Ewing said the cross-channel spots Playboy has supplied to affiliates feature network talent for the first time. Playboy TV’s original lineup includes reality shows 7 Lives Xposed and Totally Busted, call-in program Night Calls Live, Adult Stars Close Up and news show The Weekend Flash.

To help generate ideas for the campaign, Playboy conducted six focus groups in Kansas City, New York and Los Angeles last year. Four focus groups involved men, while two delved into women’s thoughts and perceptions.

Ewing said Playboy found that the biggest misperception the focus group participants had about Playboy TV was that its content was softer than other adult programming networks.

The network also learned that viewers want more explicit content with adult video programming, Ewing said.

“What we learned in the research is men come to a video adult entertainment venue with a different expectation than in print,” Ewing added.

While the cross-channel spots and print ads in the “up for anything” campaign are G-rated, Playboy is also running an Internet component of the campaign that features hotter content. Playboy purchased e-mail lists of consumers interested in adult content for the Web campaign, and is also running ads on adult Web sites.

Ewing wouldn’t say how much Playboy would spend on the marketing campaign, which will run through the end of the year.

Playboy and its Spice-branded networks face increased competition from programmers such as The Erotic Networks and In Demand, which market X-rated video-on-demand and PPV programming.

Larry Flynt’s Hustler magazine has also jumped into the mix. Flynt recently launched a Hustler TV on-demand service, and he plans to debut a subscription-based Hustler channel this summer.