Penthouse Magazine is often an integral part of teenage boys and young adults, and it was originally published by Bob Guccione in ’69, in the USA. Guccione’s ‘brazen’ approach helped this magazine reach a monthly circulation of five million and his team is increasingly focusing on licensing, in a bid to expand their reach.
Penthouse has four licensing divisions; merchandise, international publications, clubs and hospitality venues, and broadcast, and has 120 licensees worldwide. And, while this icon has not yet entered into any licensing agreements in the local markets, but Penthouse is currently evaluating several players here and leverage the emerging opportunities. Amanda Byrd, Director, Global Licensing, Penthouse Magazine, said, “India has been a focus for expansion for quite a while, given the expanding consumerism here.” In India, Penthouse is represented by Bradford License India, and its Vice President, Chitra Johri says, "Penthouse is an iconic legacy in the sophisticated men’s lifestyle space and has a dominant presence across multiple consumer categories round the globe. In India, it is one of the popular men’s lifestyle brands with certain urbanity, and that would reflect in all the extensions we would achieve for the program soon in this part of the world too."
Amongst Penthouse’s licensing division, merchandising accounts for nearly a one-third of all licensees and they produce goods in 125 categories, and are sold in over 50 countries. In addition, there are 12 Penthouse Gentleman’s Clubs worldwide including Moscow, Paris, New York and San Francisco.
This successful licensing strategy has also enabled the magazine to reach its target audience in diverse countries ranging from Australia to Germany, while the broadcasting division boasts of 11 channels and are shown on well known ‘platforms’ including Sky Italia and Deutsch Telecom. “Will shortly appoint local licensees”, says Amanda Byrd, Director, Global Licensing, Penthouse Magazine, a division of FriendFinder Networks Penthouse is a global icon and Amanda Byrd, Director, Global Licensing, Penthouse Magazine, a division of FriendFinder Networks, shared their strategy for introducing a range of licensed merchandise in India.
Sweta: Kindly highlight your worldwide licensing strategy?
Amanda Byrd (AB): Penthouse licensing is rather successful and we boast of a 50 per cent renewal rate with our licensees, given the rather strong response from consumers and retailers for our merchandise. Our strategy via licensing is to work with partners whose core values correlate and complement our mantra – ‘Life on Top’. As part of this strategy, we have worked with high- end fashion houses like Dolce & Gabbana, and Philipp Plein on collections utilising vintage Penthouse covers. In addition, we have partnered with MMA powerhouse including TapouT for a co-branded collection of T-shirts and the customer feedback has been overwhelming. Apart from that, our other licensees sell a range of merchandise to high street stores like Topshop, River Island, Burton and Jack & Jones.
In other popular product categories - energy drinks and our licensee in Germany, POS Handels has been very successful, and since their first release in 2010, they’ve sold nearly 3.5 million cans across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Sweta: Are you planning licensing activities in India, too?
Amanda Byrd(AB): Certainly! India has been a key focus in our expansion strategy for quite a while, given that the annual retail sales here are an estimated $ 270 billion and growing at a brisk pace. We are currently interviewing several local companies for our licensing activities here, and the key categories of interest include apparel, accessories, personal care, home décor, energy drinks and calendars. We have also got two licensed online retail sites - PenthouseStore.com and PenthouseStore.eu, and would be keen to take advantage of the growing online sales here, too.
Sweta: How do you select licensees?
Amanda Byrd(AB): The criteria can vary depending upon the product category, but our licensees would typically have a well established distribution relationship with specialty and other organised retail stores, along with a creative team to support innovative product concepts, and strong manufacturing capabilities. In addition, I would like to gain a greater insight on a potential licensees’ current client list, and given the nature of our business, it is easier to work with licensees who have experience in categories related to young adults and male-centric properties.