Playboy Bunnies as Social Proof?

One of the benefits of presenting at conferences is that you get to meet interesting people you might not otherwise encounter. One such individual at the Slovenian Advertising Festival was Jan Heemskerk, Netherlands-based editor of Playboy. His presentation showed how Playboy had created advertorial sections that combined pictorials with products in a way that was subtle but never dishonest. For example, a multi-page ad for Sony Bravia products was mostly photos of women using saturated primary colors – both the environments and women were painted to the same color to create a striking monochrome image. Only on the last page of the ad was there a promo for Sony, emphasizing the brilliant colors produced by the Sony displays.

Heemskerk’s father was the previous Playboy editor for the region (good luck appears to be genetic!), and Heemskerk reported that his father would tell ad sales people to get out of his office as if they were the Devil. Today, print publications can’t have that attitude, Heemskerk said, and the magazine works cooperatively with advertisers. As an ex-magazine guy myself, I do have a problem with some ways editorial and advertising are mixed – for example, is a product review a real, critical assessment of the product or is it a paid promo? These photo spreads, though, strike me as essentially honest – it should be clear to any reader that the product placement is paid, and the pretty women are, well, pretty women.

Social Proof? In my brief chat with Heemskerk, I suggested that a man surrounded by beautiful Playmates or Bunnies would inherently be more appealing to women based on the “social proof” theory (see Google and Your Brain, Part 2). He suggested the possibility that other women might be discouraged by the very beauty of the models. He offered to let me borrow his four Bunnies to put my theory to the test. I think he was kidding… If he wasn’t, I missed an excellent opportunity for some primary neuromarketing research!

The 4/10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint. One of the seminal articles on slide presentations is Guy Kawasaki’s The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. (Maximum 10 slides, maximum 20 minutes, and minimum 30-point font size for a 1-hour pitch to a venture capitalist.) One value Guy failed to specify is the optimal number of beautiful women to have standing right behind you as deliver your presentation. In the absence of specific Guydance, Jan Heemskerk opted for four at SOF. Regardless of the exact number, the bunnies-right-behind-you approach seems like the perfect preso strategy – one could violate any number of PowerPoint maxims and the audience might not care. Or even notice… :)


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— who has written 985 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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3 responses to "Playboy Bunnies as Social Proof?" — Your Turn


Richard 10. April 2009 at 10:11 am

I’ve been looking for advanced shortcuts to the basic model for attracting and seducing beautiful women, could this be it ?


Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
10. April 2009 at 11:06 am

The only catch, Richard, is that the theory (if you buy it) implies that you have to start with one or more beautiful women to attract others! Let us know if it works for you…



Simon - presentations training 17. April 2009 at 3:38 pm

Much though I sympathise with the idea here, can you imagine what would happen if I tried to develop the idea to my clients on courses?

Hang on, I feel a side-line coming on…. I could train them to make the presentations AND hire them the attractive women to go with it… :)



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