Branding By Bunny: Easter Versus Playboy

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Carrie De Simas

Editor in Chief @ GoneWithTheWord

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, you cannot help but be familiar with the tradition of the Easter Bunny: cute rabbit who clucks like a chicken and lays chocolate eggs for children to find on Easter morning. Yet, Easter has nothing to do with bunnies. So, how did the bunny become the dominant branded icon of the holiday. 

According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the Easter Bunny can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped Eostra, the goddess of spring and fertility. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

Other sources claim that the bunny first hopped into North America in the 1700s with German immigrants who brought their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” During this festivity, children made nests in which the rabbit could lay its colored eggs. Over time, the colored eggs morphed into chocolates and the nests into baskets.

But the bunny has been busy. Beyond the children’s chocolates, he is also the famous brand of an entirely different industry: Sex. (Not surprisingly considering the bunny’s proclivity to sexual activities.) 

Hugh Hefner explains why he chose the rabbit to become the now-famous Playboy Bunny: ‘I selected a rabbit as the symbol for the magazine because…he offered an image that was frisky and playful. I put him in a tuxedo to add the idea of sophistication. Since both ‘the New Yorker’ and ‘Esquire’ use men as their symbols, I felt the rabbit would be distinctive; and the notion of a rabbit dressed up in formal evening attire struck me as charming, amusing and right.’

Each of these branded icons ranks among the most successful in the world. That’s because they are:

  1. Highly recognizable. We know their implied meaning by sight and need no tagline or explanation.
  2. Authentic – Kids everywhere know the Easter Bunny is reliable in his distribution of chocolate goodies. Adults everywhere recognize the Playboy Bunny as the leader of sexy naked women.
  3. An Industry Leader – Anyone else giving out free chocolate each year? Anyone else who is the brand leader in sexy sex?
  4. Quirky – The Easter Bunny breaks into your home in the middle of the night to poop chocolate…but at least he doesn’t demand anything (unlike Santa who gobbles milk and cookies!). Playboy Bunny works for the eccentric Hugh Hefner and has a whole merchandizing line in his image and sexy women sporting bunny ears for publicity.

What does your brand say about you? Do you have an image, color, style or trademark that people can come to recognize as distinctly you? Find one that’s consistent, authentic and showcases your personality and you too can hop into people’s permanent memories. 

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