Bridging the Gap
Loomis acknowledges that there are a lot of excellent printing companies in Latin America and that there are definite benefits to mailing from within a country. However, he warns, those advantages can disappear overnight. "There was a time when Colombia was the hottest thing going for good printing, good pricing and excellent mailing rates; but overnight, they had a huge postal increase, and the bottom fell out," he recalls.
Keeping everything under control
With its publishers dispersed throughout the world, it may seem like a difficult challenge for Playboy Enterprises to monitor the production of its foreign editions. It is, Walker confirms.
"The truth is," he adds, "that you can't do it on an issue-by-issue basis. … All of our editions, with the exception of our most recent launch, are monthly publications, and they are all under their production cycles and contingencies."
How does the home office keep tabs on international operations? "What we try to do is establish production standards at the beginning of the process, before the first issues of a new edition go out," Walker states. "One of the things that we look at very seriously before choosing a publisher is production sophistication. We need to know what its capacity is and whether it has on-site production managers and established relationships with color houses, binders and printers."
Like a mother letting her child go off to school alone for the first time, a parent company might find it difficult to maintain trust in a foreign publisher after relinquishing production control. Walker combats that by training foreign staffs in Playboy's editorial philosophy and production standards.
Another way to ensure that the foreign editions don't become sub-par is to assist the foreign publisher during the initial stages. "We have gotten involved in the past in helping our licensees negotiate print contracts," Walker comments. "We'll also help them change vendors, especially when it comes to color reproduction."