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Twenty-five Playboy staffers were laid off Thursday as the iconic brand becomes the latest media company to be hit with cutbacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per sources, the layoffs hit multiple departments at Playboy, including editorial, licensing and other divisions, though editorial has remained a focal point following news from mid-March when Playboy CEO Ben Kohn announced that the iconic brand would no longer publish print magazines as the company transitioned to a digital operation. Like many glossy publications, Playboy had taken hits from a declining advertising market as well as playing around with brand identities in the way editorial tackled nudity, feminism and the broader culture.
Through a spokesperson, Kohn confirmed the layoffs Thursday by attributing cuts both to the pandemic and a shifting business model. “A few months ago, Playboy announced a more concentrated focus on consumer products and lifestyle experiences, where consumers spend in excess of $3 billion a year globally,” said the exec. “Today, we reorganized our business to address challenges caused by the global pandemic as well as to accelerate our work to build direct relationships with consumers through our e-commerce and service offerings.”
Kohn also expressed gratitude for the staffers let go as part of the changes: “Those leaving Playboy today have contributed in innumerable ways and will be greatly missed. We thank them for their dedicated service and are committed to supporting them as they embark on their job searches.”
A source indicated that the 25 staffers will be receiving a minimum of two months’ severance pay, with some due to receive more based on tenure. Playboy is said to also be covering the cost of COBRA insurance for the length of the respective severance agreements.
Those being let go were informed throughout the day on Thursday. Senior editor Ryan Gajewski confirmed the news on Twitter by posting, “It’s definitely tough to be among the Playboy layoffs today following the company’s decision to end the magazine and pivot away from editorial. But I’m grateful for all we were able to accomplish,” he wrote, expressing a point of pride for culture-electrifying profiles of both Ezra Miller and Thomas Middleditch.
With the cutbacks, Playboy joins a list of media companies negatively impacted by the devastating coronavirus pandemic that includes Condé Nast, CBS News, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Vice and dozens of other local outlets.
It’s definitely tough to be among the Playboy layoffs today following the company’s decision to end the magazine and pivot away from editorial. But I’m grateful for all we were able to accomplish. Proud to have won an award for my Ezra Miller profile, helped spur conversation …
— Ryan Gajewski (@_RyanGajewski) May 28, 2020
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