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We knew things were getting bad at the Playboy Mansion, but today’s Wall Street Journal suggests it’s worse than we thought. Here’s the takeaway: That logo is about to end up a lot more places, and mean a lot less.

The rabbit house has always had a lucrative sideline in selling kitschy goods on the side—including three different types of pinball machine, by our count—but now that money’s tight, they’re ditching the collector’s items for a Louis Vuitton-style mass market approach. Think of bunny-coated hoodies, sold en masse to teenage girls in Tokyo. It should do well enough to keep them in business, but before too long the rabbit logo will be more recognizable as a fashion icon than anything having to do with the gentlemen of leisure they built their name on. All that careful branding has curdled into kitsch.

It’s a troubling sight now that magazines are doing more with their brand than just selling paper. If the publication doesn’t hold up—and Playboy hasn’t for quite some time—you may find yourself in the t-shirt business before you know it.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom