Re-examine all those Playboy distribution/Playboy sold in Wal-Mart discussions.

Brian Wallace
Tue, 6 May 2003 04:39:46 -0700 (PDT)

Does this help Playboy, hurt Playboy or have no
effect on Playboy?

I'd think it may help a little short term but hurt
in the long term.  If the largest retailer in America
won't sell Maxim any more then they will never sell
Playboy no matter how much nudity is removed.

This may cause people to think that Playboy and Maxim
aren't really that far apart in content (since they
both aren't sold in Wal-Mart due to content) but I'm
not sure if that helps or hurts.

>From the New York Times:

3 Racy Men's Magazines Banned by Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retailer,
said yesterday that it had halted sales of Maxim,
Stuff and FHM, men's magazines that feature a mix of
scantily clad starlets and bawdy humor but go to some
lengths to avoid being labeled as pornography.

The decision came after "listening to our customers
and associates," Melissa Berryhill, a spokeswoman for
Wal-Mart, said. "I know we've heard on at least one of
those magazines, they weren't pleased with the

Maxim has been sold in Wal-Mart for the last three
years, while FHM was added recently. The standards and
general content of the magazines have not changed, but
Wal-Mart, which is based in Bentonville, Ark., has
been under pressure from Christian groups in the past
over its distribution of various magazines. 

The decision to stop selling the so-called lads'
magazines is the latest in a series of moves by the
company to limit distribution of entertainment
products it judges too racy for its shoppers. The
company has refused to sell CD's that carry warning
labels about explicit lyrics; instead, Wal-Mart Stores
sell sanitized versions of albums, with some songs
omitted or covers redrawn to pass muster with the
chain's buyers. The stores also ask for age
identification from purchasers of video games with
mature-audience ratings.

The chain's role as a purveyor of pop culture -- a role
that increases every time a new Wal-Mart opens, with
200,000-square-feet worth of products ranging from
groceries to garden tools -- seems to be in an
evolutionary stage, something not quite defined either
by Wal-Mart or its customers. With sales of $244.5
billion last year, Wal-Mart towers over its discount
competitors and has recently begun to challenge
supermarket chains and drugstore empires for customers
as well.

It sells more DVD's than any other chain, and has made
a point of trying to attract younger shoppers through
its entertainment software, including movies, games
and CD's. It has a dominant position in the magazine
publishing industry -- selling 15 percent of all single
copies, according to industry executives -- and has
already been able to force changes in the distribution
system for magazines.

Magazine industry executives said Wal-Mart
occasionally declines to sell particular issues of
some magazines, including the September 2001 issue of
InStyle that featured an artfully arranged nude photo
of the actress Kate Hudson. Last year, Wal-Mart also
took exception to a single photo in a compilation of
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues and decided not to
sell the one-time publication.

Stephen Colvin, president of Dennis Publishing USA,
which owns both Maxim and Stuff, confirmed that
Wal-Mart had declined to stock the magazines, but he
said that Wal-Mart accounts for "less than 3 percent"
of the copies his company sells at newsstands.

"Like a lot of categories of magazines, we have our
ups and downs with Wal-Mart depending on what is in
the issue," Mr. Colvin said.

Maxim, Stuff and FHM have a combined circulation of
almost five million, with much of their success
deriving from newsstand sales. Maxim is the largest of
the three, with an average circulation in the second
half of last year of 2.5 million, and it sells an
average of 848,000 copies a month on newsstands, a
highly lucrative revenue stream.

Mr. Colvin said that his company had had trouble
figuring out where Wal-Mart's taste threshold lies.

"Maybe they think Tyra Banks should have been wearing
pink instead of black," he said of a recent cover
model. "I don't think that these decisions are often
rational; they are subjective. For any men's magazine
to put a woman on the cover seems a bit troubling to

Officials at FHM, where newsstand sales increased 9.6
percent in the second half of last year, to a total of
438,000, said they believed that a double standard was
at work.

"We respect Wal-Mart's right to make a product
decision, however we do not agree," said a spokeswoman
for FHM, which is owned by Emap of Britain. "FHM never
publishes full frontal nudity and never will. And FHM
is far more consistent in its adherence to this policy
than Details, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue
and many women's fashion magazine's, which publish
bare breasts under the guise of art."