I arrived in the Seattle airport after a six-hour flight feeling exhausted. As I made my way to the baggage claim I found some thrill glancing around at all of the Seahawks stuff everywhere (we are fans, but live too far away to find much swag anywhere). I stopped dead in my tracks while passing a familiar retail outlet, Hudson News. There it was… Playboy Magazine, out front and center in a back-lit retail rack about as high as my ribcage, before you even make it into the store. Right next to the chocolate, the Pringles, and the neck pillows.
All retail establishments use merchandise to “call customers” into the store – items that people will pick up, items that will sell easily and get people to stand in line where they will be bombarded with further impulse purchase options. It’s just not common for retailers to use pornography for this purpose.
This is a photo of the actual display — notice the prominence. I covered the mag with a copy of Wine Spectator.
“Playboy is no longer a pornographic magazine,” Hudson’s assistant general manager at Seatac Airport told me once I retrieved his number from a cashier. I got the impression he had rehearsed the company’s official stance on the matter. I told him that I was already well aware of the magazine’s newly revamped marketing strategy to no longer include nudity in the publication. “But you know as well as I do that the magazine is still sexually explicit, yet Hudson News has positioned it at the eye-level of children, and you are using it as a marketing ploy to lure anyone of any age into your store. It may not be illegal, but it is sexually exploitive and highly unethical,” I said. The assistant GM referred me to his superior, but reminded me that they are only subject to corporate policies.
Oh yes, the elusive corporate giant is definitely behind this really disturbing trend to normalize pornography. The mighty dollar is the most important player in this game, and when I called the corporate offices of Hudson Group, I was informed by a very snippy customer service agent that they determine their merchandising decisions based on what a broad range of customers are interested in purchasing. As I tried to calmly relay my complaint, the customer service agent nearly shut me down, accusing me of having a “political” or “religious” agenda.” What?! How about an agenda of decency, dignity, and respect for families traveling with small children? If anyone has a crooked agenda on this issue, it’s clearly Hudson News.
This is a portion of the current Playboy cover. It is clearly directed to look like the model is taking a selfie. The original also includes a caption that resembles a text message. What message does this send to young people?
I have long been aware of Hudson’s porn problem, which is highly annoying because I won’t spend my money there and it’s hard to find another place at the airport to pick up a quick pack of gum. They’ve already been on my mental naughty list for a long time, but to me, this is a deeper level of low. They are capitalizing on the new “PG-13” version of Playboy, seizing the opportunity to sell sex to anyone, now that they’re free from obscenity law constraints that previously dictated the magazine’s proximity and accessibility to minors. They’re even advertising the magazine with a special label on the rack (no other magazine had a label – see the picture). Kudos to your planogram division, Hudson… you’ve achieved consistency for sure — the display was the same at the other two airports I traveled to last week.
How do you feel about Playboy being out in the main thoroughfare at Hudson News? If you’re as fed up as I am, I invite you to join me in taking action:
SHARE this post.
Post your own thoughts on social media using #HudsonNews or tagging them with @HudsonGroup on Twitter and Instagram.
Make your voice heard by calling their corporate office and asking for customer service (or if you’re feeling gutsy, ask for the CEO, Joseph DiDomizio): 201-939-5050.
Send them an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
When traveling, let the Hudson News cashiers know that you disagree with the company’s policy (be nice… the ones I talked to disagreed with it as well!!)
Let’s be the voice of sanity for the sake of our kids. We don’t have to sit idly by while sexual content and themes still considered “harmful to minors” invade our eye space at every turn. Together, we can make a difference, and we will continue fight for our kids’ rights to innocence!