This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 10, 2003, that was edited for clarity.
Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, perhaps the only thing hotter than baseball in Chicago right now is the company my next guest runs -- and runs it very well. One of the world’s most recognized brands. And this year, it is turning 50.
"Playboy" (search), founded in Chicago by Hugh Hefner (search), will kick off the celebration with a special January 2004 issue, which will reflect on the past, present, and future of the famous men’s magazine.
Looking forward, how will this adult multimedia entertainment company stay young at heart? Who better to ask than Christie Hefner, the chair and the CEO of Playboy Enterprises.
Christie, good to see you.
CHRISTIE HEFNER, CHAIRMAN & CEO, PLAYBOY ENTERPRISES (PLA): Nice to have you in Chicago.
CAVUTO: Same here! Same here.
You know, when you took over this company, it was kind of limping along. Everyone thought that the magazine print was going to die out to the Internet, competition on the Internet, more and varied services, the same thing that’s old that buried "Penthouse." You stopped that. What was your strategy?
HEFNER: Well, I think twofold. One, to your point, we had to make the magazine itself relevant, and I’ve always believed that great magazines will survive in a world that has lots of media choices. And, as you know, we’ve brought in a new editor.
And, in fact, the new audit bureau circulation numbers just got published, and I’m happy to say in a world in which everybody from "Cosmo" to "Maxim" are down on newsstands sales "Playboy" is up.
But the second part of the strategy was really to take advantage of the new media and move the brand into television and online, and those are really going to be our growth engines for the future.
CAVUTO: Do you worry, though, about the "Maxim," even the men’s health and even traditional men’s magazines like "GQ," that are kind of doing what you’re doing and being as bold and audacious as what your dad was doing years ago?
HEFNER: We look at it as a sincere form of flattery, to be honest.
CAVUTO: Sure, but it’s also a sincere drag on eyeballs, right.
HEFNER: Well, we’ve had the same rate base between three and four million since 1986. "Playboy" has been and is the number one best-selling monthly magazine here in the U.S. and around the world.
So, to the extent that more men are buying magazines on the newsstand because of "Maxim" and "FHM" and "Loaded," I think that’s a good thing because we think there’ll be a point where they may want to graduate from "Maxim" to "Playboy," and to the extent more advertising goes into the men’s market...
CAVUTO: What about women? I know it’s a big draw to men, but you were telling me the last visit that women for some of your ancillary products, for, you know, some of the Spice program, and some of the other things you do, it draws in a good number of women. Do you have a breakdown on that?
HEFNER: Well, we do. The magazine itself has over a million readers, which is more than some of the women’s magazines, but the real...
CAVUTO: You mean female readers?
HEFNER: Yes, yes. But the real connections that we’ve made with women have been through television as couples watch our viewing and through our consumer products, where about 80 percent of the products with the Playboy and rabbit-head designs on them in the U.S. are actually sold to women.
CAVUTO: You know, your stock has surged about 50 percent. There is growing talk as well that you’ve kind of found your legs, so to speak. But there is this sort of shakeout that everyone says is going on, led by the "Penthouse" and some of the other lesser -- "skin magazines" is too strong a term, but I think you know what I mean. What is the next stage here?
HEFNER: Well, I think that the change that we were talking about in terms of "Maxim" and the other U.K. books coming in is a very good thing for "Playboy" because it creates a lifestyle category of men’s magazines that allows "Playboy" to be the leader in that as opposed to in past years when "Playboy" had to keep trying to persuade people it wasn’t simply a classier version of "Penthouse," that it was, in fact, a lifestyle magazine.
So, I think there are going to continue to be new entrants into the magazine marketplace, as well as there’ll be magazines that don’t make it, but I think the thing we’re most proud of is to have built a multimedia empire and to have, you know, as many readers as we have at the same time that we’ve got growing subscribers online and growing television viewers.
CAVUTO: Your dad’s OK, right?
HEFNER: My dad’s in great health. I was just in L.A.
CAVUTO: You know, an analyst said the best thing that he ever did was just give you the reins because it could have imploded there.
HEFNER: Well, he’s been incredibly supportive of me on the business side and incredibly smart on the marketing side.
CAVUTO: Yes, yes. Do you have a silk robe, or is he the only one that has the silk robe?
HEFNER: I figure like both of us in silk robes is just a little too much.
CAVUTO: All right. Christie Hefner, thanks for coming by here. Appreciate it.
HEFNER: My pleasure.
CAVUTO: The brains behind Playboy.
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