How unlikely would it seem today, if someone were to tell you that they were planning to build one of the world’s sexiest and most recognizable brands– with a logo based on a bunny? Well, that’s exactly what Hugh Heffner did. Seriously, doesn’t it sound kind of nuts? Looking back on the vintage images of the bunnies in their heyday, there is an undeniable naivete and corniness, mixed with an overtly demeaning attitude towards women– and wow, did it work.
Heffner was gifted with an ironic stroke of fate when the original “Stag Club” name that was going to grace his new men’s magazine was legally blocked by Stag magazine. He needed a new handle, and the stag was soon converted to the now iconic bunny, in a historic and innuendo-laden rename. Playboy later ran a pictorial article on Chicago’s Gaslight Club, and was overwhelmed by thousands of readers requesting to join this exclusive key members club. Playboy execs smelled a golden opportunity, and soon plans were laid to open their own private key holder’s club. All that was needed now was the vision.
After many go-rounds, the decided-upon bunny custom was nipped and fluffed until it met Heffner’s critical approval. They say he was particularly smitten with the tail– go figure. In 1960, when the very first Playboy Club opened– the so-called icon of the sexual revolution was off and hopping. Seems almost more like a misogynist’s ___ dream than a liberating sexual revolution if you asked me.
Liberating for whom, exactly?
Unwilling to lose time in litigation for the “Stag Party” name, Hugh Hefner renamed his magazine “PLAYBOY” and chose a new symbol. Arv Miller transformed his original stag mascot to a rabbit. Founding Art Director Arthur (Art) Paul then created the world-famous Rabbit Head logo.
1960, Hugh Hefner and Playboy Bunnies at the Chicago Playboy Club.