Cannes Lions

Playboy Playhouse

THE GATHERY, Brooklyn / PLAYBOY / 2020

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Since its founding 65 years ago, Playboy has been committed to pushing the boundaries of conversations — on sex, freedom, and civil rights. Playboy is a catalyst of culture who recently found itself adapting and tailoring to a growing and diverse audience, offering a new view and open mind with their editorial direction. The publication doubled down on its core values to engage a younger, hyper-informed audience. Playhouse gave this new audience a space to explore freedom, equality and the pursuit of pleasure. As Playboy’s creative strategy, design and production partner, we were tasked with taking this new editorial trajectory and reimagining it as a live experience. The Playboy Playhouse sought to reach diverse, influential millennial readers and serve as an introduction to Playboy’s re-articulated mission. The experience reminded them Playboy is a leader in sexual wellness, and a platform for provocative and playful conversations that drive culture forward.


The Playboy Playhouse invited guests to step into the pages of the magazine by transforming store fronts in Los Angeles and New York for immersive multi-day experiences that served as physical manifestations of Playboy's iconic heritage features. The Playboy Interview became live conversations with notable guests like Marilyn Minter, Garrard Conley, Roxane Gay and Jerry Saltz. The Playboy Advisor was reimagined as a round table discussion, while the magazine's iconic fiction features became phone booths where guests dialed-in to hear stories. Playboy’s iconic photo shoots were brought to life, and captivating editorial features were transformed into larger-than-life 360-degree video installations. The space invited audiences to join Playboy’s timely conversations on equality, freedom of speech, gender, sexuality and pleasure with a diverse roster of contributors and members of the Playboy community. The setting also doubled as a photo and video studio that expanded the reach of the Playhouse beyond its walls.


Conceptualization for the Playhouse began in March 2019 with production commencing in April before opening its doors in May. The implementation process fostered unprecedented collaboration across Playboy. The entire company, from members of the marketing and editorial teams, to Playboy’s art handlers and in-house historian, were mobilized to bring the Playhouse to life. Playboy curated a weekend of panels and workshops that leveraged their network of cultural trailblazers. Signature Playhouse elements included “The Intercourse” (a play on Playboy’s heritage feature, The Playboy Interview and “discourse”) where guests could engage with select fiction pieces or hop into a phone booth to learn about Playboy’s history. The Playhouse also boasted “The Picture Show” where guests could be immersed in a 360-degree installation of the magazine’s photo spread complete with ASMR sounds, and a vinyl wall of Playboy cartoons.


Activating across two days in Los Angeles and four days in New York City, the immersive visually-driven platform delivered results across a variety of different metrics including:

-800+ visitors

-77+ million media impressions

-Partnership with The Trevor Project’s “50 Bills, 50 States” campaign, supporting the LGBTQI+ community

-Reimagined Playboy Bunny Ears were commissioned from seven queer artists

-Limited-edition Moschino Pride capsule collection was sold on-site with 100% of Playboy’s proceeds going to The Trevor Project

When asked about the activation, Playboy said: “The pop-up events were a tremendous success and played a key contributing role in evolving our iconic brand to be relevant to today’s discerning audiences, by broadening our reach across genders and age groups – not least of which started with creating a two-way dialogue that would appeal to fans new and old.”

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