Playboy Uncovers Again, Bringing Nudity Back to the Magazine

A reversal of previous decisions to remove nudity from Playboy's media platforms

Subscription News: Playboy Uncovers Again

Source: Playboy

Cooper Hefner, son of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, announced on Twitter Monday that Playboy would bring nude photography back to the iconic men’s magazine starting with the March-April 2017 issue.

Playboy had stopped including nude photos in the magazine in March 2016, after successfully redesigning a safe-for-work (SFW) website in August 2014 and a SFW Playboy Now mobile app in 2015.

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Heffner, chief creative officer, explains his decision.

 Bringing Nudity Back to the Magazine

Source: Twitter

This is a complete reversal of Playboy Enterprises’ then-CEO Scott Flanders’ decision to remove nudity from Playboy’s media properties.

“The customer speaks, the user rules: in today’s media landscape, nudity is just an unnecessary attribute,” Flanders said.

Flanders’ rationale for removing nudity was the organization’s shift to more mainstream content. Playboy reviewed metrics data from 28 million users on its social media channels and discovered that the majority were sharing and commenting on non-nude content.

“It grew virally with almost no effort or energy,” Flanders said. “All that safe-for-work content from the beginning caused us to think. There’s a real appetite for lifestyle content with the Playboy brand authority on many different topics.”

Flanders left the company last May to become CEO of eHealth, reported the Wall Street Journal, as Playboy explored a possible sale. Flanders was replaced by Ben Kohn who is serving as the interim CEO.

“This is a remarkably special moment personally and professionally that I get to share this issue of Playboy magazine with my Dad, as well as with readers,” said Cooper Hefner, in an official statement. “It is a reflection of how the brand can best connect with my generation and generations to come.”

In addition to the return of nude photos and featured pictorials such as the Playmate of the Month, readers will see these changes:

  • Cooper Heffner’s version of The Playboy Philosophy, originally started by his father
  • The return of Party Jokes
  • The debut of a new section called Heritage which compares the magazine’s past point of view and how it is still relevant today
  • The removal of the words “Entertainment for Men” on the cover

Subscription News: Playboy Uncovers Again

Source: Playboy

The March-April 2017 “Naked is Normal” issue will feature an interview with actress Scarlett Johansson who participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. in January, a profile on Van Jones, twenty questions with actor Adam Scott, an insider’s guide to finding the best weed for every occasion, several works of fiction, and the March Playmate Elizabeth Elam, depicted on the magazine’s cover pictured on the right.

Insider Take:

Are we surprised? Yes and no. Yes, we are surprised because Flanders seemed so sure of himself and the metrics he was basing his decisions on. No, because despite the data, we were shocked that Playboy even considered giving up the popular pictorials for which the magazine was known. Times have changed since the magazine began in 1953, but changing the brand’s focus didn’t make sense.

On the positive side, Playboy made a decision, watched it fail and corrected it. Subscription companies do that every day. They test a product or service, implement it and then make adjustments as needed. Sometimes companies find that their assumptions were wrong, or the audience reactions turn out to be the opposite of what the expected. Playboy has decided to return to its roots, so while the test didn’t work out, the magazine learned a lot and can make future decisions based on that knowledge.