CAMPAIGNS: Event Marketing - Playboy leaps to cyber world

Client: Playboy Enterprises (Chicago)

Client: Playboy Enterprises (Chicago)

Client: Playboy Enterprises (Chicago)

PR Team: Bender, Goldman & Helper; Smith Public Relations; and Baker

Winokur Ryder (all Los Angeles)

Campaign: Playboy’s Club Lingerie Fashion Show

Time Frame: August to November 1999

Budget: N/A

Taking a leaf, as it were, from the Victoria’s Secret book, Playboy sees

its future in multimedia events like this fashion show, which was

broadcast on cable and satellite TV and over the Internet and had a

companion video for home sale. The event, held November 16 in Los

Angeles, also presented the company with the opportunity to sell

lingerie and memberships in its online Playboy Cyber Club.

The event marked Playboy’s first effort to coordinate PR across its TV,

online and video divisions. It also was the company’s first pay-per-view

Web event. While the show was free, viewers could spend dollars 5.95 for

a ’backstage pass’ to visit models’ dressing rooms.

The goal was to drive viewers to the event and, in turn, boost revenue

of Playboy-branded products.


The campaign focused on basic media relations, but targeted both the

trade and general press. Each of three Los Angeles-based PR firms was

given specific press segments to target: Bender, Goldman & Helper, the

video trade press; Smith PR, the online world; and Baker Winokur Ryder,

the entertainment media and TV entertainment shows. But all the pitches

emphasized the cross-media nature of the event, says Rebecca Theim,

director of corporate communications for Playboy Enterprises.


Trade press contacts began in mid-September while online media were

alerted before October. The first all-media release was sent out October

20. In early November, 10 days before the event, 25 top-tier reporters

who hadn’t shown interest in the first wave of press contacts were sent

a Playboy martini shaker containing a piece of lingerie along with

information about the show, a video and instructions for logging on free

to the backstage part of the event. The elaborate mailing ’was

definitely worth doing,’ garnering some additional pre-event coverage,

Theim says.

A special dress rehearsal was held a day earlier than planned so TV

entertainment shows could get footage to broadcast the day of the event.

’Online reporters aren’t any different than print reporters in the

information they want,’ Theim says.


The event picked up widespread coverage in such outlets as Billboard,

Hollywood Reporter, Fox News Channel and (in the online

tech report), in addition to mentions on The Tonight Show, The Martin

Short Show and The Roseanne Show. During the webcast, the site got

roughly 565,000 visitors. And more than 20 million page views were

recorded of the archived show in the week following the event.

Playboy will not disclose how much money it made from people signing up

for the pay-per-view portion or from related merchandise sales. Theim,

while not specifying her PR budget for the event, says Playboy spent

only a fraction of what some other recent Web events have on publicity

and ’dollar for dollar we did incredibly well.’


Playboy plans a New Year’s Eve webcast from its West Coast mansion as

well as live chats, and possibly some streaming Web video, from Mardi

Gras in 2000. Promoting events that cross its various business units is

sure to increase.

’That’s definitely the direction in which the company is headed,’ Theim


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