Playboy in Taiwan

One of the things that suprised me here was the acceptance of Playboy as a regular, run-of-the-mill brand name.

From what I remember, Playboy was a guilty pleasure when I was 13 or 14.  We would hide the mags in our rooms, hoping mom wouldn’t discover them, taking every opportunity to feast our eyes on the…ahem…articles and passing them around to close friends.

At 16 – 17 the mags became a semi regular read (obviously for the articles) whenever older friends developed the nerve to go buy one.

Finally upon discovering the internet, Playboy faded into oblivion (the internet had MUCH better articles).

No thought was ever given to walking around with something that had Playboy plastered across it – oh god the shame that would bring!!  But I guess time and location has changed all of that.

In Taiwan, Hugh Hefner’s baby has gone so mainstream, that one could say it’s a household name for richer families.  I never thought I’d use “Playboy” and “household name” in the same sentence.

Everything from clothing, to cologne to pencil-cases, that posh looking bunny has it covered.  When I first saw the image, it was on a T-shirt that one of my students wore to class.  He’s 7.  I did a double take and looked again.  No way his parents let him wear a shirt like that…right?

Since then, I’ve kept my eye out for it, and have seen that salad munching critter everywhere:

Playboy Shoe

Playboy cologne

Playboy  pencilcase

I’ve also noticed Playboy stores:

Playboy store

Playboy store

In Taiwan the Playboy bunny, like all bunnies do, has multiplied at a ferocious rate.  But one thing I have yet to see in a store is the original magazine itself.  While they are marketing all sorts of merchandise, there is no magazine!

I asked students of mine if they know what Playboy is, and none of them had a clue.  So that’s why they’re allowed to walk around with all this stuff.  People have no idea that the bunny has a seamier side.  Taiwanese, being so traditional, would definitely NOT be walking around in Playboy stuff, if they knew where the origins of the name came from.

To give them credit, the Playboy company has made a smart move marketing the bunny logo here.  Taiwanese are obsessed with “cute” things – the epitome of which is the “bunny rabbit”.  Ask any Taiwanese what the cutest thing is, and the immediate reply will be “A rabbit”.

Well, without the naked spreads, a pink bunny becomes a cute, desirable logo  on overpriced merchandise.  Add that to the fact that Playboy is a western company, you have many Taiwanese willing to pay for the privilege of sporting said bunny.

Oh Taiwanese parents….if only you knew!


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