September 21, 2023 ( Revised On July 16, 2024 )

Playboy Launches Play Hard Selzer after Ceasing Publication of its Print Magazine

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With the introduction of Play Hard vodka seltzer, the iconic lifestyle and entertainment brand Playboy has made a surprising entry into the world of ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages. In this article, we will delve into the story behind Playboy's audacious move, examine the distinctive characteristics of Play Hard seltzer, analyze its target market, marketing strategies , and discuss the potential impact of this venture on the competitive RTD market.

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The Playboy Brand Evolution

Hugh Hefner founded Playboy in 1953, and the company has encountered significant changes over time. Once synonymous with its iconic magazine, Playboy has evolved into a brand that transcends traditional boundaries and encompasses multiple facets. Playboy ceased publication of its print magazine in 2020, signalling the end of an era. Nonetheless, this was not the end for Playboy; it marked a strategic pivot toward becoming a dynamic lifestyle brand.

Modern Playboy identifies with concepts such as individuality, self-expression, and amusement. It aims to connect with a younger demographic, predominantly Millennials and Gen Z, by offering diverse content and products that align with contemporary values. This change resulted from the realization that Playboy's legacy could extend beyond its historic magazine format.

The Emergence of Play Hard Seltzer

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Play Hard, Playboy's entry into the RTD market, is an important step in the evolution of the brand. Spirits Investment Partners (SIP) and PLBY Group's joint venture, Playboy Spirits, introduced Play Hard seltzer. It is positioned as a premium, low-calorie alcoholic beverage that embodies Playboy's new identity.

Key Features of Play Hard Seltzer

1. Unique Flavours - Play Hard seltzer offers a refreshing twist with four distinct flavours: Mango Dragon Fruit, Grapefruit Yuzu, Pineapple Passion Fruit, and Apple Prickly Pear. These flavours are carefully crafted to appeal to a diverse range of tastes, reflecting the brand's commitment to celebrating uniqueness and creativity.

2. Artistic Packaging - The brand leverages its rich history of collaboration with renowned artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring to create captivating packaging. The cans prominently feature Andy Warhol's iconic "Bunny Head" pop-art painting from 1989. This infusion of art and culture into the product's design pays homage to cultural icons while reinforcing Playboy's legacy of artistic depth, historical significance, and contemporary relevance.

3. Low-Calorie Appeal - Each 12-ounce slim can of Play Hard seltzer contains only 110 calories and 3 grams of carbs. This low-calorie profile aligns with the preferences of health-conscious consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, who are shifting away from high-calorie alcoholic options.

4. Gluten-Free Vodka - Play Hard Seltzer is crafted using gluten-free vodka, ensuring accessibility for individuals with dietary restrictions while maintaining the product's premium quality.

Targeting Millennials and Gen Z

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Playboy Spirits recognizes that the success of Play Hard is contingent on its ability to resonate with newer generations, particularly Millennials and Generation Z. The brand intends to appeal to this audience by providing a product that not only fulfills their expectations for taste and quality, but also satisfies their desire for unique and culturally significant experiences. The positioning of Play Hard as a premium RTD seltzer with aesthetic packaging and a low-calorie profile speaks directly to these younger consumers' preferences. It aims to distinguish itself in a crowded market by offering a more compelling product and branding bundle, addressing what Playboy Spirits CEO Marc Bushala perceives as a lack of quality and originality in the RTD category.

Competing in the Crowded RTD Market

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The changing preferences of consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, have driven the RTD market's significant growth in recent years. These generations have abandoned traditional alcoholic beverages, such as beer, in favour of low-calorie, convenient, and fashionable alternatives, such as strong seltzers.

The success of brands such as White Claw and Truly has paved the way for newcomers such as Playboy to establish themselves in this competitive market. Playboy Spirits is aware of the challenges it faces in a market where established competitors dominate. However, the company believes that Play Hard seltzer's combination of high-quality liquid, aesthetic packaging, and a brand that resonates with its target market will allow it to stand out.

Expanding Market Presence

In September, Play Hard seltzer debuted at select retailers in Miami and Orlando. This initial release functions as a litmus test for the brand's market reception. Playboy Spirits intends to expand Play Hard's presence in additional markets throughout 2024, demonstrating its commitment to this endeavour over the long term.

Marketing Strategy 

To introduce and promote Play Hard seltzer to its target demographic, Playboy Spirits has adopted a multifaceted marketing strategy. Playboy, utilizing its legacy as a brand associated with art, culture, and self-expression, has incorporated iconic artworks by artists such as Andy Warhol into the product's packaging, thereby creating a visually appealing and culturally pertinent product. This art-infused packaging tells a story that resonates with consumers who seek out distinctive and creative experiences. In addition, Playboy Spirits has leveraged the power of digital channels by making Play Hard seltzer available for purchase online at, catering to the convenience and accessibility preferences of its tech-savvy audience. Playboy Spirits seeks to position Play Hard seltzer as a premium, trendsetting beverage that embodies the brand's playful spirit and appeals to the fashion-forward sensibilities of Millennials and Gen Z through digital marketing, engaging content, and strategic collaborations.

Online Accessibility

Play Hard seltzer can also be purchased online, recognizing the significance of digital channels in reaching younger consumers. This online presence also enables the brand to engage with its audience through curated content and digital marketing strategies.

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Playboy's Play Hard seltzer represents a strategic pivot for the brand, shifting away from its traditional association with print media and embracing a contemporary, dynamic brand identity. By entering the RTD market, Playboy Spirits intends to cater to the evolving preferences of Millennials and Generation Z while leveraging its extensive history of collaboration with iconic artists such as Andy Warhol. Play Hard Seltzer's voyage is just beginning, and it promises to be a compelling chapter in Playboy's never-ending tale of self-expression, daring living, and the pursuit of pleasure. Cheers to an invigorating combination of art, culture, and spirited enjoyment

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