At the end of the day, it’s always been about the original playboy Hugh Hefner.
“One of the popular misconceptions is that Hef spends all of his time with his girlfriends,” Flanders says. “The U.S. print magazine continues to be developed and edited in house under Hef’s leadership. He still spends an important part of every day working on the magazine; he’s still involved in every pictorial selection, and in the selection of the articles. He’s an active editor-in-chief, even at 86.”
Playboy’s founder also played a key role in the brand’s rejuvenation by initiating its shift to the private sector in 2011—a move that gave Flanders the freedom he needed to execute his strategies. “Being unburdened of our status as a public company gave us the ability to accelerate the changes that needed to happen,” he says. “If I were to credit a single person for facilitating the turnaround, indirectly, it would have to be Hef.”