The History of the Playboy Logo
The Playboy logo is one of the most iconic logos in the world, recognizable everywhere as symbol of prestige, sexiness, and a little bit of mystique. How exactly, though, did the world’s most premiere adult magazine end up choosing a rabbit in a bowtie as their logo? For that matter, how did the world’s most famous playboy, Hugh Hefner, end up starting the magazine to begin with? Turns out, it’s a fascinating story.
The Origins of Playboy Magazine
In 1951, Hugh Hefner was working as a copywriter for Esquire, a job he would soon quit after being denied a $5 raise. Soon after this, Hefner would go on to start the magazine that would later make him wealthy. Hugh Hefner, though, was certainly not always wealthy. Hefner, now the embodiment of riches and luxury, was only able to start Playboy thanks to a $1,000 loan from his mother. It didn’t take long though for this small investment to pay dividends. The very first issue of Playboy was published in December of 1953 and featured a centerfold nude image of none other than Marylin Monroe. The magazine was a near instant success, with the first edition selling all of its near 54,000 copies in just a few weeks.
Just a few months later, the novel that would reach international fame, Fahrenheit 451, was serialized in the March, April, and May of 1954 issues. This trend of featuring high-profile names and works such as Marylin Monroe and Fahrenheit 451 is one that Playboy would continue from that point forward. Women who would go on to pose for the magazine would include celebrity actresses such as Farrah Fawcett and Margot Kidder, sports stars such as Amy Acuff and Amanda Beard, and musicians such as Samantha Fox and Debbie Gibson, just to name a few. The magazine would also continue to publish high-profile interviews, serialized novels, and original comics.
Today, Playboy has sold a whopping 3 million copies in the USA and 4.5 million copies worldwide, amassing Hugh Hefner a net worth of $200,000,000 and though his adventurous lifestyle has slowed considerably in his old age (he is now 90 years old) his name is still synonymous with the playboy lifestyle.
History of the Playboy Mansion
The Playboy Mansion is located In Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California, near Beverly Hills, the mansion became famous during the 1960s when the media began to cover the lavish parties thrown by Hefner.
The mansion has 22 rooms with a theater room with built-in pipe organ, a game room, three zoo/aviary buildings, a tennis court, basketball court, a waterfall and a swimming pool area, a basement gym with sauna below the bathhouse and much more.
- Hugh bought the mansion for $1.1 million in 1971
- The mansion has a staff of around 70 people including butlers, chefs, groundskeepers, maintenance, security, and zookeepers.
- In January 2016 the Playboy Mansion went up for sale with the asking price of $200 million with the terms that Hefner could continue
to rent the mansion for the rest of his life. In August 2016 the Playboy Mansion was bought for $100 million by Daren Metropoulos, the co-owner of Hostess Brands.
- Every Sunday Hefner has movie night for special guests and Playmates.
He has over 4,000 movies that are organized
atop the spiraling staircase of his bedroom.
All told, the history of Playboy has been one of fame and success, but what about that of its ever-recognizable logo?
History of the Playboy Logo
Clean, simple, and yet entirely unique, the Playboy logos widespread reorganizability has no doubt played a role in the international success of the magazine. While Hugh Hefner was essential in creating Playboy, he was not actually the one who created the iconic logo. That distinction goes to designer Art Paul. Mr. Paul sketched out the logo for use in the second issue of Playboy. Since that second issue the logo has not once been changed from the original design. This in itself is a remarkable fact considering how often companies change logos these days and is a testament to the effectiveness of the original logo’s design.
Features of the Playboy Logo
In designing a logo for Playboy Art Paul’s original vision was something that had a “humorous sexual connotation” as well as something that was “frisky and playful”. Speaking on why a rabbit was chosen as the magazine’s logo, Hugh Hefner said that, “The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning; and I chose it because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping – sexy. First it smells you then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking. Consider the girl we made popular: the Playmate of the Month. She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a young, healthy, simple girl – the girl next door . . . we are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy. The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water, and she is happy.”
As for the colors used in the Playboy logo, a solid black tone conveys luxury, professionalism, and, class. Much like a good suit, there was never a need to dress up the Playboy logo in elaborate colors when solid black so effectively conveys the magazine’s image.
Popularity of the Playboy Logo
Throughout the history of the Playboy logo, the iconic rabbit has enjoyed a large degree of popularity. For one, the image has been featured on every cover of the Playboy magazines that have been published. While you might not notice the logo on the first glance at any given Playboy magazine, it is indeed there. An ongoing joke for the Playboy staff was to hide the logo somewhere on the cover of each magazine, and it was a tradition that stuck.
Along with appearing on every cover of one of the world’s best-selling magazines, the Playboy logo has made appearances on a variety of other merchandise as well. In fact, selling products that featured the Playboy logo has and continues to be a major source of income for the company. The unmistakable black rabbit could be found on everything from lighters to t-shirts, serving as a testament to just how much good a great logo can do for a business. In the 1950’s the Playboy logo was even adopted as the military aircraft insignia for the Navy VX-4 fighter-evaluation squadron.
Not limited to for-profit enterprise, the Playboy logo made its mark on charitable causes as well. In the annual “Rock the Rabbit” music news feature, fashion designers would create t-shirts for famous bands based off the logo. The bands were then photographed wearing their specific t-shirts, and these photos were featured in the magazine’s March edition. After the issues were published, the t-shirts were sold at auction and the money was donated to AIDS at LIFEbeat: The Music Industry Fights AIDS.
Next to Bugs Bunny, the Playboy bunny may very well be the world’s most famous rabbit, and the impact that the logo has made on the magazine’s success is nothing short of substantial. It’s a classic logo with a great history, and is certainly one whose effectiveness is worth imitating.