NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Playboy.com's controversial "Women of Wal-Mart" feature went live Wednesday, showcasing six of Wal-Mart's "sexiest" female employees who dared to shed their uniforms for the online pictorial.
"This was a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Tesha Mullen, one of the feature's models. "When I heard about the pictorial, I knew right away that I wanted to send in photos. Some of the most beautiful women in the world have posed for Playboy and it is an honor to have been selected for this feature."
|Playboy.com launches the "Women of Wal-Mart" pictorial.
In September Playboy.com had announced it was searching for the sexiest women at Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer. Playboy (PLA: up $0.37 to $16.88, Research, Estimates) ran a similar-themed 'Women of Enron' last year and 'Women of Starbucks' photospreads in the magazine earlier this year.
"We received over 400 responses from Wal-Mart employees. That's more than the responses we got from both Enron and Starbucks (SBUX: Research, Estimates) employees," said Jay Nesheim, spokeswoman for Playboy.com.
Nesheim said the six models, including a photo lab technician, assistant manager and a department manager, were paid for their feature but would not disclose the amount.
"We knew that this would be a very provocative thing for us to do," said John Thomas, editor of Playboy.com. "Wal-Mart has a conservative corporate image and we knew they wouldn't be thrilled. But we're hoping that the company will be pleased once they see how fun the pictures are and how empowered the women at Wal-Mart feel."
For its part, Wal-Mart said the pictorial "is in poor taste." "Based on our values, we will be disappointed if any of our people do participate in it," said spokesman Tom Williams. "However, individuals are free to do what they want."
Recently Wal-Mart, in an effort to spread its wholesome image as a family store, said it would put covers on a few women's magazines that typically display racy pictures and story titles.
Bentonville, Ark.- based Wal-Mart also banned three men's magazines, including FHM, Maxim, and Stuff, earlier this year because it said it had received complaints from customers about their content. The chain has never sold Playboy.
In the past, Wal-Mart has refused to sell CDs that carry warning labels about explicit lyrics. Instead, the store sells sanitized versions of albums, with some songs omitted or covers redrawn to pass muster with the chain's buyers.