Playboy Kids, ‘Centerfold’ and Honey Birdette: Playboy Group’s latest ventures pornifying the globe

We expose Playboy profiteers 

In recent years Playboy has promoted itself as a good corporate citizen which ‘values equality’ and ‘advocates for civil rights’.

These claims are at odds with Playboy’s corporate activities which - true to its sexploitative roots - continue to objectify women and sexualise children.

Playboy Kids: China's children to serve as human billboards for porn brand

Yes, you read that right. Playboy is flogging its merch to children in China. The first Playboy Kids store is due to open in Shanghai later this year.

2018: Playboy Group CEO Ben Kohn (2nd from right) poses with Cooper Hefner and unnamed Playboy "bunnies" (Source: Getty Images)

The venture trades off the alleged naivete of Chinese citizens - adults and children who, according to CEO Ben Kohn, have never [legally] seen a Playboy mag and see Playboy as a 'fashion brand'. As we’ve previously pointed out, it is sinister and unethical for adults who are aware of what the Playboy brand represents to sell Playboy branded merchandise to children who do not know what the brand symbolises or that they are being used as unwitting props for the global pornography industry. 

Kohn knows exactly what Playboy is - a global porn empire with a six-decade history of objectifying and exploiting women and girls for profit. Playboy Kids demonstrates the depths his company will stoop to for profit. While he doesn't 'see Playboy Kids coming to the United States', Chinese children are fair game to serve as walking, skipping and cartwheeling billboards for the porn brand.

Playboy merch flogged to teens

While Playboy uses marketing spin to distance itself from its porn mag publishing roots (a tactic seemingly used to attract investors), it has continued to trade widely off the Playboy magazine. Today, t-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with oversized objectifying and porn themed images from the magazine are sold to teens and young people across the globe. 

In May we called out youth retailer City Beach for flogging Playboy merch to teens. We recently expanded our campaign to call on all Playboy stockists to stop selling this sexploitative brand.

Playboy Group acquires sex shop brand Honey Birdette 

In July Playboy Group announced its buyout of Westfield-resident sex shop chain Honey Birdette. Honey Birdette has a long history of objectifying women through its porn and BDSM-themed advertisements, and sexualising children who are forced to view these in shop windows in family friendly shopping malls.

It recently racked up its 50th advertising violation for a porn-inspired shop window ad which featured 'visible genitals'. In July Honey Birdette attracted widespread condemnation from domestic violence survivors, advocacy groups and community members after broadcasting a BDSM-choking themed video to all-ages shopping centre audiences across the country.

Honey Birdette's floor-to-ceiling shop window BDSM-themed ads

Contrary to its go-to refrain about "empowering women" Honey Birdette disempowers and harms women and girls, routinely portraying women as sex objects enjoying and desiring sexualised violence. It has also been the subject of serious workplace sexual harassment and abuse allegations  made by former (young, female) staff.

Playboy's buyout of Honey Birdette means that the sex shop's Champions of Change landlords are now directly aiding the activities of a global porn empire, and profiting. A number of ethical super funds are also complicit through direct ownership in the shopping centres which lease to Honey Birdette, or as shareholders in the sex shop's landlord property companies. (We'll be sharing more on this soon.)

Playboy to launch OnlyFans-style platform ‘Centerfold’ 

Last month Playboy Group announced it is launching a subscription-based online adult content sharing platform. The announcement came in the wake of OnlyFan’s (now reversed) decision to stop hosting pornography. It also followed repeated efforts by Playboy Group to distinguish itself from the porn publishing company Hugh Hefner created. Kohn has spun the company as a ‘lifestyle brand primarily selling products to women’.

News about the platform (dubbed Centerfold) came as no surprise to us. There's nothing extraordinary about a global porn empire expanding its business activities to publish more porn.

Contrary to its misleading marketing spin, objectifying and pornifying women is Playboy's true core business, and Playboy will not, cannot ever digress from it. Kohn knows that without Playboy-perpetrated and facilitated objectification and pornification of women, there is no Playboy. The proposed creation of Centerfold was perfectly logical and entirely predictable.  


Still trading off its magazine roots: Playboy's verified Instagram page serves as a memorial to 'Playmates' of decades past

Invested in sexploitation: Playboy’s shareholders

Playboy Group is a publicly listed company (NASDAQ, PLBY). A quarter of PLBY shares are owned by institutional shareholders - prominent investment companies including:

It is deeply disturbing to see these names connected to Playboy - a proponent of the global porn industry. The connections signify the normalisation and sanitisation of corporatised pornification and objectification of women for profit.>

It is impossible to reconcile investment in Playboy Group with corporate claims to care about women, children, community, social responsibility or ethics - which several of these companies make (see here and here for examples).

Investment in companies which profit from sexual exploitation is unethical and risky. No company which claims to invest responsibly should be propping up and profiting from Playboy Group.

In the coming weeks we will be calling on institutional shareholders to dump their Playboy Group shares.

See also

The house that Hef built: Hugh Hefner's Dark Legacy - MTR in ABC Religion and Ethics

Bin the bunny! Our call to Playboy stockists

'I was forced to act as a sexualised doll': Ex Honey Birdette staff claim culture of sexual harassment

Collective Shout responds to common defences of City Beach Playboy promotion

Invested in sexploitation - Our letter to Etsy shareholders

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  • Collective Shout
    published this page in News 2021-10-14 15:59:20 +1100
  • Collective Shout
    published this page in News 2021-10-14 15:31:40 +1100

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