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Playboy Plans to Build a New Mansion in the Metaverse

Almost five years after Hugh Hefner's death, Playboy is still attempting to chart a way forward.

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Playboy has already splashed its famous bunny logo across the digital world, joining the NFT craze with its bunny avatars and launching new digital social platform Centerfold, a direct competitor to OnlyFans. But its latest plan might be its most ambitious yet: CNBC reports the company wants to build a new Playboy mansion in the metaverse.

Almost five years after Hugh Hefner's death, Playboy continues to contend with its less-than-stellar reputation. The January release of A&E's 10-part documentary Secrets of Playboy thrust the company's unsavory past back into the spotlight. Playboy's leadership posted a statement on its website ahead of the documentary's debut, saying "today's Playboy is not Hugh Hefner's Playboy," as the company attempts to safeguard its place in the digital future — within the next iteration of the internet that technologists call web3.

Related: Web3 Is the Future of the Creator Economy

"The magazine was one product of the company," Playboy CEO Ben Kohn told CNBC. "But it was really that rabbit head that's worth billions and billions of dollars and not replicable. When you think about what this brand represents, from a marketing perspective, from an awareness perspective, we pretty much have 100% awareness everywhere in the world."

Although the brand currently drives billions in consumer spending across the globe, much of it via licensed products sold overseas, Kohn said that business model is broken, so the company is undergoing a transformation that includes diving into the very lucrative world of influencing. In December, rapper Cardi B assumed her new role as Playboy's creative director in residency; she flew from New York to Miami in a black-painted, bunny-adorned plane that's a nod to Hefner's 70s era DC-9 jet "Big Bunny." The two Instagrams Cardi B posted during the flight pulled in nearly nine million views.

In October, Kohn brought actress and model Pamela Anderson, who'd been on 13 Playboy magazine covers since the 80s, back into the fold to help spread the word about the company's first NFT launch, which consisted of 11,953 original digital artworks featuring cartoonish bunny characters sold on NFT marketplace OpenSea.

Related: OpenSea News: What to Know as the NFT Marketplace Reports 'Data Issue'

As Kohn considers how to further connect with Playboy's global audience in the digital age, a virtual mansion in the metaverse, accessible via the brand's membership program on Centerfold, seems the clear next step. "As we move into 2022, we'll begin with Playboy membership, and members will have a whole host of benefits moving forward. A lot of our membership will be based on blockchain," Kohn told CNBC.

PLBY Group was down nearly 1% as of 10:30 a.m. EST.

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