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Playboy capitalizes on China’s rabbit

[Update: I’ve changed the title to something I like more.]

As with all major holidays around the globe, commercialization is the inevitability. The Chinese New Year of the Rabbit is upon us in just a few days. I came across a few cases of rabbit capitalism in the West which I think tells us something about culture adoption.

Air Jordan 2011 accented with gold and red

Did you know Michael Jordan was born in the year of the rabbit? Air Jordan 2011 will launch first in China during the Chinese New Year with gray, red and gold accents to symbolize good luck and happiness.

Business will pay homage to your culture if you have money to spend, no? As I have always said in the past, China’s economic resurgence guarantees Chinese culture resurgence.

Hugh Hefner would certainly love the year of the rabbit too. If he has a way to mate the rabbit of the West with the rabbit of the East, could you imagine the fortune? And it appears he has found the right formula.

In some ways, Hefner is the embodiment of Chinese culture. Have you ever seen him wearing any color other than red? 😉 His strategy of capitalizing Playboy as a lifestyle brand in Asia is brilliant. Don’t get shocked on your next visit to China seeing kids wearing the rabbit on their tennis shoes and socks.

Playboy has been floundering in the last few years, especially with the financial crisis hitting the West. Like GM and other Western businesses, they are looking for ways to ride the growth in China. The formula has finally found success.

However, last month it inked a five-year, $50 million deal with Chinese company Glory Rabbit, which plans to open at least 2,000 Playboy-branded retail stores in China. A 2,500-square-foot store Playboy store also opened in Taiwan last month and IMG, Playboy’s licensing agent, is working on deals in Japan, South Korea and India, Flanders said. (AFP)

Seriously, people will embrace your culture when there is money to be made in the embrace. In that sense, I love the pragmatism in capitalism. In that sense, capitalism trumps a lot of ugliness which culminate in xenophobia.

Looks like these New Zealanders are eager to sell red wines to the Chinese too.

The new years celebration is the biggest of all the festivals in China. Unquestionably, its great for businesses in China too. According to this report:

One of the online sellers from east China’s Zhejiang Province selling plush toys and other items such as cushions with the pattern of rabbits, has witnessed a sales record. The pink dolls, named “Love Rabbit”, in four sizes with prices varying from 15.8 yuan to 48.7 yuan, had 11,911 orders for purchases within one month.

“Items associated with the rabbit began to sell well beginning last October,” said a man surnamed Xia, who said his online store belonged to the Fengbao toy company in the manufacturing Yiwu city.

Perhaps Hefner got his idea from this Mr. Xia! I have read elsewhere Playboy attire has already started to take off in Japan.

And, guess what? Hefner does not even need to worry about the Playboy porn image all that much inside China. Chinese censorship has done a really good job fire-walling his nutty stuff, so his rabbit is much more acceptable across all age groups! And, he also has the “Year of the Rabbit” rabbit to ride.

Chinese New Year in London (source TNT)

Around the world, the Chinese New Year is a big event. Some really cool images of Hong Kong’s preparation here. London is expected to have the “biggest” of such celebrations outside China, with 250,000 people expected to witness the celebration.

(Btw, did you notice the 230million people mentioned in the London celebration article? Or here at Scotsman.com? Why do I have a feeling they saw our earlier post and didn’t realize 230million is a stat for the trains only. 700million will be traveling, in fact.)

The San Francisco Chinatown will have her parade too. My friends families and mine will be celebrating. We will be appropriately dressed, bid our friends and loved ones fortune and good health, and to partake in other elements of this festivity.

If you want to get into the mood, a simple way is to send a Chinese New Year eCard, here.

Over 1 billion Chinese will be watching the 2011 CCTV Spring Festival Gala on February 2, 2011, 8:00PM Beijing standard time. It will be streamed live from CCTV’s web site.

Happy New Year of the Rabbit! I wish Hefner success too. And no worries, I don’t think Hefner is after that multiplication type of rabbits. He is after RMB and 紅包.

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