Two weeks ago, news leaked that Playboy Enterprises was in talks to sell their holdings to London Fog owner Iconix Brand Group Inc. Hugh Hefner’s publishing empire’s stock has fallen drastically in the last five years, and the recent economic downturn dealt a major blow to the magazine industry, and drew speculation that Playboy was no longer a sustainable enterprise. (In September alone, Playboy’s ad pages fell 35 percent.) Turns out, the rumors were only half right.
Last night Dylan Stableford reported for The Wrap that Playboy has in fact struck a deal that will help them tackle their mounting debt, but it’s not with Iconix. Instead, the publishing house will be working with American Media Inc., which publishes titles like National Enquirer, Star magazine and the latest incarnation of Radar Online, to handle the back-end aspects of the business, which includes marketing, sales, and subscriptions. Hefner’s group will remain in charge of the editorial.
Playboy Enterprises’ CEO Scott Flanders was optimistic about this venture:
“We evaluated AMI’s outsourcing capabilities on both a quantitative and qualitative basis, and we are confident that this partnership will enable us to continue publishing a magazine that reflects the quality and image of Playboy…AMI has an unmatched entrepreneurial culture. Its position as the only large U.S. publisher to show year-over-year growth in advertising during the first nine months of this year demonstrates its capabilities.”
Playboy’s enthusiasm extended to their prediction that the magazine will reach a profit by the end of 2011. Likewise pleased with the deal was David Pecker, AMI’s chairman and CEO, who claimed that Playboy is a perfect addition to the company’s other magazine holdings, including Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, and Flex.
We say: adding a magazine of female centerfolds to a group of titles that deal primarily in pictures of oiled, muscled men might send a confusing message to AMI’s audience. Maybe they should have invested in Playgirl instead.