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This is the key part to me: "The company now makes most of its money from licensing its ubiquitous brand and logo across the world — 40 percent of that business is in China even though the magazine is not available there" The actual magazine is kind of like Apple Desktop products. It's a direct link to their heritage and the original reason people were drawn in but it's not where the real money is made anymore so changes are fairly trivial to the overall business.

Even the magazine publishing rights have been licensed overseas in censorious Asian markets, which has given the brand plenty of opportunity to watch experiments with non-nude print editions.

Through a friend actually involved with the publication I found myself at the very sedate launch of VIP Magazine in Singapore, which had licensed the right to splash rabbit ears across the cover and a foreword from Hugh Hefner and some Western models to appear at the reception, but couldn't actually use the word "Playboy" (or, on account of Singaporean censorship, any actual nudity). The title is a bit of a giveaway as to the position they were aiming in for the Asian market. Even by Singaporean standards supercars were overrepresented in the car park; not sure whether that meant Mini's sponsorship of the event was a mistake or a masterstroke.

I understand the operation - which sounded very lean - failed, the licence was taken up by another publisher, and quite possibly failed again. Perhaps more to do with having the wrong title and paucity of content than lack of nudes?

Indonesia's nude-free Playboy Indonesia has the brand name in the title and appears to have enjoyed more success, despite (or possibly because of) attacks on its office and public campaigns resulting in the incarceration of its editor.

I'm not sure whether they've managed similar franchise publications in China, but I'd be surprised if they haven't had discussions on the subject.

There is nothing like being a wet behind the ears American kid, completely oblivious to the real world, arriving in China to live with a family and teach English, and seeing tons of Playboy apparel.

I could not even tell them. And this was in, IIRC, 2005?

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