Go Woke, Go Broke? Shares of Playboy Plunge As Magazine Features Male ‘Bunny’ On Cover

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Adult magazine Playboy is raising eyebrows for its decision to feature a male model on its cover and shareholders aren’t responding the way some might have assumed they would.

The company’s stock price (PLBY) is down 3% in early trading amid a broad market sell-off. And, shares of the Plby Group Inc have lost more than 8% in the past five days.

Bretman Rock, a gay Filipino influencer is being featured on the cover of Playboy magazine, a magazine that historically targeted a straight male audience.

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The Hawaiian-based Filipino influencer is popular for his videos on YouTube and Vine, usually featuring comedy and makeup.
Rock described his feature as a “huge deal for the LGBT community, for my brown people community.”
The reactions from Playboy’s core audience seemed largely negative. Readers are accusing the magazine of corporate pandering and of losing touch with their audience.
“Just who is this meant to appeal to, or is it just more corporate pandering?” one commenter wrote.
“Dumb…this magazine has a specific target audience, and there was nothing wrong with that….acceptance, inclusion, respect does not mean forcing a narrative on everything. If I like football, I should not need to see baseball in a football magazine,” one user wrote.

“Big fail playboy! Seems like nothing is sacred anymore,” one reader wrote.

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“Lost me as a lifetime subscriber! Go woke, go broke!” another subscriber said.

Playboy addressed the decision and the negative comments, refusing to back down.

“Since posting last Friday, we’ve received a lot of great comments, but far too many offensive ones as well,” a company spokesperson wrote.

The company went on to point out that Playboy had always been a progressive brand.

“These are the same kind of comments Playboy received when we put Darine Stern, an African American woman, on the cover in 1971; when we featured transgender model Tula Cossey in 1991; when we fought for abortion rights before Roe v Wade and cannabis law reform in the 1970s.”

Go Woke, Go Broke?

While the new woke turn might hurt the company, it is difficult to assess what the impact to the business will be.

Playboy has been facing a decline in readership since 1980, as it has faced competition from other magazines and internet pornography.

Statistic: Playboy's circulation worldwide from 1960 to 2018 (in millions) | Statista

The company is likely making a desperate appeal to a younger, “woke” audience, and pivoting to a different type of content, away from its “sexist” legacy. 

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