Problem: popular men's magazine is losing readers.
Solution by Innovation: re-think the product's content and expose (pun intended) an unusual generational icon to it's target demographic to regain the attention of their readers.
Playboy magazine has been seeing a decline in readers as the magazine industry as a whole is decreasing steadily. In an effort to re-attract readers and continue evolving with it's audience, this month's edition of Playboy features popular cartoon character Marge Simpson from the long-time running animated TV show "The Simpsons."
The success behind Playboy's product has always relied on shock value by offering readers a unique "insight" into the lives of celebrities and sex icons. Playboy has thought beyond its typical subject matter and has shifted into relatively unknown territory: the sexual exploitation of a popular cartoon character. Their problem was a decline in attention to the print portion of their business, so their solution was to expand the content of their product and attract the attention of a television sitcom's audience that reached 7.6 million viewers last week (tvbythenumbers.com). "The Simpsons Movie," a feature-length film, was released in 2007 and earned an impressive $527 million worldwide (boxofficemojo.com). These numbers give Playboy an optimistic look into the environment in which they are releasing their most current product. Clearly, the demand for "The Simpsons" is very strong after 21 seasons on the air. Playboy is trying to grab the attention of a massive, well-established fan-base and is anticipating a positive turn in circulation as a result of this month's edition, known as "The Marge Simpson Cover."
Jimmy Jellinek, Playboy's editorial director, said "We knew Marge's pictorial would appeal to a large demographic. This cover and pictorial is just another example of how we're evolving our editorial content to continue to reach men in their 20s, and also maintain the elements of the magazine that have attracted readers for more than 50 years."
If this proves to be a smart move for Playboy resulting in an increase in magazine sales amidst a struggling print industry, then how can we, as innovators, use Playboy's example of evolving a product to appeal to a large, established demographic in order to keep our product alive?