Make sure you know how to pronounce shfanfanat. It means “Bunny,” and there are about to be a whole lot more bunnies in Israel. That’s right: Playboy is coming to the Holy Land.
The famed U.S. lad mag, founded by Hugh Hefner in 1953, will be making its Middle East debut later this year. The project was the brainchild of Daniel Pomerantz, an American attorney who stuffed copies of the magazine in his suitcase when he made aliyah last year. He partnered with some businessmen from back home, and they spent time hunkered down with Hefner’s staff to get a sense of the magazine’s history.
An Israeli expansion makes plenty of sense for Playboy, which has been struggling financially for the last few years. Though the brand is still valuable, thanks to licensing deals that make everything from Playboy condoms to bunny-print clothing and beauty products, the magazine has followed industry trends and lost money hand over fist. The company reportedly earned more money from a reality show, “The Girls Next Door,” about Hef’s three then-girlfriends, than it did from traditional advertising sales. The brand clearly needs to support its flailing magazine division, and launching new international editions is one way to do that.