Hugh Hefner has died but his legend will live forever.
A young Hugh petulantly resigned from his Esquire Magazine copywriting job in January 1952 because they would not give him a $5 raise. Driven, he took out a loan from his mother, his bank and 45 investors gathering $8,000 to develop and launch Playboy Magazine. After months of work, the first issue went on sale in December 1953 with Marilyn Monroe on the cover and went on to sell over 50,000 copies. In 1955, Hugh scooped up a short story rejected by Esquire Magazine and set new records in sales for the growing empire. In the 60s, the magazine started a series of hard-hitting interviews with world leaders and news makers – asking questions TV and newspaper reporters dared not to ask. An icon was born
The dawn of the internet was the publication’s greatest challenge. As nude photos became commonplace online, the lure of the magazine’s pictorials lost some of their shine. But Hugh was determined from the beginning that Playboy would be more than just a ‘dirty’ magazine. He prided himself, as editor-in-chief, and his writing team on the quality of the articles and non-nude offerings. Today, the magazine continues to sell more than 2.5 million copies each month.
There was more to Hugh as well. He wasn’t just a philanderer, clad in silk PJs. He was a sexual advocate, a change agent, he led the way on equality and was a civil rights activist. He spent millions restoring the Hollywood sign and gave generously to charities.
You can’t just be one thing.
Deep memorability comes from layers. Hugh created a magazine famous for sex and nakedness but gave it genuine reasons for being beyond that. Brands, stations and morning shows that are one dimensional will eventually lose steam.
Strive to be famous for something, but ensure you are offering more than just the thing you are famous for. Audiences require depth to satiate their hunger for an evolving brand experience. We cannot only offer the one core attribute or fun contest or distinct music style to remain top of mind and truly engaged – we have to be more.
Now, go put on some silk PJs and build an empire.