Longtime Super Bowl party host Playboy has bowed out of this year's Tampa hoopla, citing the economy—and dwindling ad revenue in particular—as the reason. “Yes, the economy has played a role, marketers are holding tight to their budgets,” said Playboy divisional senior vice president of marketing Lisa Natale. “For us, this wasn’t the most prudent event to produce given the financial climate. We explored smaller parties, parties with partners, but we didn’t want to compromise the integrity of our event. We didn’t want to scale it back.”
After nine previous parties, Playboy's bash was known as one of the weekend's biggest, reeling in 2,000-plus attendees last year.
In order to have some presence during the Super Bowl weekend, the magazine is opting to sponsor DirecTV's Celebrity Beach Bowl tourney on Saturday, January 31, where bunnies will be on hand to represent the brand. Natale said that Playboy will “absolutely” be back in 2010, adding, “I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear this. Every day you read the trades about other parties being canceled. No one's renting private jets. The spots during he game aren’t selling. It’s sort of expected.”
Despite the cancellation, Playboy still plans to green light other event marketing endeavors throughout the year, including a golf scramble at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, sponsorship of 26 Grand Am events across the country, and the Rock the Rabbit party during South by Southwest in Austin in March. Natale wasn't able to confirm whether or not the brand will return to the NBA All-Star Game festivities in Arizona next month.