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Playboy Kicks Off Rock the Rabbit Project, Pushes Web

Playboy Enterprises continues to pump up the bunny.

Playboy Enterprises continues to pump up the bunny.

The media company recently launched a Web site  geared toward women, shopthebunny.com in its ongoing effort to build a fashion business and compete more effectively against retailers such as Victoria’s Secret and Fredericks of Hollywood.

Meanwhile, it is embarking on a project, Rock the Rabbit, under which 20 bands will customize T-shirts as part of an aggressive marketing program. The project will be featured in a marketing plan that will begin with a six-page feature photographed by rock star specialist Mick Rock, whose work includes portraits of David Bowie, Deborah Harry, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Six of the bands – Flaming Lips, The Thievery Corporation, Metric, Kasabian, Rhymefest and Whitestarr  –  will be featured in the fashion pages of Playboy magazine’s March issue, which hits newsstands Friday. L’il Jon will be featured in a Q&A in the magazine.

The concept behind the campaign – customized T-shirts designed by rock stars and their bands rendered in rabbit-head themes emulating fun, style and the good life –  will also be featured in a Rock the Rabbit party hosted by Dennis Hopper on Feb. 14 at Rain at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. Rhymefest and Whitestarr, whose musicians include Cisco Adler, the son of rocker Lou Adler, and Alex “Orbie” Orbison, the son of the late Roy Orbison, will perform at Rain.

Other bands that will be featured on playboy.com and who have created T-shirts for men and women include Soulwax; Oh No, Oh My; Trainwreck Riders; Home Video; Your Vegas; Dean & Britta; Stellastarr; Monsters are Waiting; Tahiti 80; Johnossi; Illinois, and The Bronx. At the end of February, consumers will be able to log onto rocktherabbit.com and talk to the bands, read their interviews and buy their T-shirts on-line.

The limited-edition T-shirts, which will retail between $45 and $60, will be displayed at the Playboy booth at next week’s WWDMAGIC trade fair in Las Vegas. Whitestarr’s T-shirts will also be sold at the Playboy Concept Boutique at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, where their CDs will be sold and the musicians will sign autographs.

“We are planning a series of events and want to take this international and we want to culminate it with an auction and benefit during fashion week in New York in fall 2008,” said Laura Donohoe, vice president of retail marketing and merchandising for Playboy’s global retail group.

She said a percentage of the proceeds of the sales of the T-shirts will be donated to LIFEbeat – The Music Industry Fights AIDS.

Playboy, which is perceived to be a male-oriented brand, is making an all-out appeal to women with shopthebunny.com, which features apparel, lingerie and beauty products. Shopthebunny.com’s background pages are pink with tiny bunny head silhouettes in lighter pink.

Not surprisingly, “sexy” is the operative word for the tops, sweaters, jeans, skirts, dresses and swimwear on sale. Top styles include burnout halters, tight T-shirts, bustiers and tube tops. Skirts are short and dresses, such as the red rabbit head medallion number for $79, are revealing. Shoes include clear sky-high platform sandals for $49 and black Playboy Babe heels for $59.

As far as accessories, there are belts, sunglasses, hats and handbags with the signature rabbit head silhouette. Gifts and home items include stitched rabbit head satin duvet covers for $99, black faux mink throws with white rabbit heads, $83, and leopard-print rabbit head-shaped pillows, $29. While most of the items on the site are moderately priced, jewelry is more of a splurge. A platinum diamond and sapphire Playmate of the Year necklace with 1.25 carats of diamonds is $4,500. A similar necklace in yellow gold is $1,400. The collection includes rings, navel rings, earrings, bracelets and watches.

Playboy declined to comment on sales volume, but said projected sales forecasts and call volume have exceeded projections during the initial 60-day launch.