The CEO of Playboy admits that he’s clueless

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

Considering how much money the modern CEO is paid, I find it frustrating that so many of them are incompetent, so much so that they are willing to be entirely honest about their incompetence.

With so much free porn oozing from the Internet today, why would anyone look at a tame, old brand like Playboy — online or in print?

Scott Flanders, 57, the first Playboy Enterprises Inc. CEO not to share DNA with its 88-year-old founder and figurehead Hugh Hefner, says no one’s ever asked him this “critical inflection point” before.

Hmmm. Never? Really? But it’s such an obvious question, one that he really has no choice but to correctly answer — and soon — to save the aging and troubled legacy brand. Flanders took the reins from Hefner’s daughter Christie in 2009, the year Playboy lost $51.3 million, its stock price fell below a dollar a share and it barely escaped being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange. Talk about baptism by fire.

The 20-year media veteran, formerly CEO of Freedom Communications Inc., Columbia House and several other mainstream publishing giants, admits that he isn’t entirely sure what the magic fix is. “I’m still chipping away to reveal the elephant that will be our future,” Flanders tells Entrepreneur, comparing the future Playboy to an ice sculpture in progress, a vision not yet realized.

I’ve got plenty of ideas what you could do with the brand. Stop competing with Details or Maxim for 20-something males, instead, focus on older guys and focus on style and class and non-porn ideals about sexiness. That’s actually pretty close to the original vision that Hef started with in the 1950s, and it could also work today. There is a market for a style magazine that mixes style and sexiness, for guys over the age of 35.

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