Whether you like it or not, sex sells… even virtually. That may be why yesterday in Playboy’s Q1 2008 earnings conference call, Playboy Enterprises chairman and CEO Christie Hefner (the daughter of Hugh Hefner) discussed the company’s future plans and in doing so hinted that Playboy may be developing its own virtual world in the future.
While describing the future of the Playboy brand Hefner said:
“It is the strength and appeal of the brand that will drive the company’s future success, and we intend to leverage that in both the immersive real world and in the virtual environment to increase shareholder value.”
Hefner elaborated by saying:
“We believe that the potential of online is much greater than the performance we’ve seen in the last several years. And to realize that potential we have to catch up in terms of technological infrastructure and breadth of content and interconnectedness between what we do in the virtual world and what we’re doing in other businesses in terms of e-commerce, in terms of events, in terms of advertising, in terms of social networking, etc.”
Will Playboy actually develop their own virtual world? They already have what I have praised as one of the most successful, if not the most successful, immersion of a real life brand into Second Life. Do they really need to have their own virtual world? Will this encourage other brands to develop their own virtual worlds? Personally, I think that a virtual Playboy could be a huge success, but it won’t work for all brands, and having multiple separate branded virtual worlds isn’t very viable compared to having one world like Second Life that can encompasses many individual brands while still allowing them each the opportunity to develop their own individual space and identity.