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Playboy Decides “Coy” is the Way to Go

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Image Credit: PlayboyLogo by Source. 

Been there, done that.

Playboy magazine, a glossy spread that has featured thousands of women in their birthday suits has decided to show less skin in its future editions. Citing that nudity in the 21st century “is just passé at this juncture,” Scott Flanders, the CEO of Playboy informed the press of their company’s surprising move earlier this week. He has admitted that just everyone can access porn or nudity at the click of the mouse; thus, making a stale statement that really, less is more.

The Playboy Era

The start of the 1950s were the years that Playboy opened its publication to stark nudity and glossy pin-up of less than stellar models and Hollywood goddesses to the American public. It was the sexual revolution where love, peace and baring the human body were the “in” thing. Consequently, the women’s liberation movement was on the upswing and traditional modes of behavior regarding sex and intimacy were being challenged up front.

When Playboy founder Hugh Hefner featured Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe on its maiden issue during the 1950s, it was the magazine’s first taste of success. With over 50,000 copies sold, Playboy carved a niche in America’s wanton appetite for visual stimulation. Centerfold became a household byword and was synonymous with pinup photos.


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With the company’s never ending fight with censorship, it still prevailed with Hefner’s purchase of the Playboy Mansion at 1340 North State Parkway adding to the magazine’s reputation of embodying the good life. The company’s expansion to club memberships, merchandise, movies, television, and bunny junkets, which featured the famous bunny logo gained strength in the 1960s.

The following years were a whirlwind of global expansion, which brought the magazine’s circulation to other countries such as Germany. Playboy products were being distributed worldwide with an initial venture in Japan in 1972, which accounted for over 7.16 million sold copies, their largest sales ever.

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Playboy Staff in 1970 by Cmacauley

The decline in most print publications during the last few decades didn’t leave the magazine unscathed. Playboy’s circulation steadily declined; from over 7 million in the 70s to about 800,000 today. It was not surprising, with the rise of the internet use and digital media, print was slowly gasping its last breath.

Out with the old.

Playboy’s move is a major shift from its early policies of full nudity. With the internet clearly granting easy access to every porn and nudity available, the magazine’s decline is imminent. Most users can access high-definition pornographic materials easily; the majority opting to use peer-to-peer sharing sites to get access to sexually graphic digital contents.

Similar competitors such as Hustler and Penthouse, which have more sexually implicit content also added to the magazine’s dismal performance. Playboy’s decision to show lesser skin for their models in the future is the latest move of the company to take a step back from going all out nude; which was banned in their Playboy website in August of 2014.

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Image Credit: Playboy lighter” by Downtowngal 

It was, however, a wise decision on the magazine’s part. The move enabled Playboy to gain access to more platforms and mainstream social media such as Twitter and Facebook. It also increased its online readership, with unique visitors to the Playboy site averaging 400 percent a month.

The launching of the magazine’s Playboy mobile app widened its reach; with more millenials joining in the fray and enjoying more of the magazine’s non-nude contents and interesting articles. According to the company, readership age was lowered to 30 years as compared to its earlier patrons of the 40-somethings. More readers opt to view more generalized content such as videos and other content featuring culture, humor and sex; not to mention glossy pictures of beautiful women.

Ushering the new and better Playboy

Will the magazine survive this new era? Flanders seemed to think so. In a statement, he said that “The political and sexual climate of 1953, the year Hugh Hefner introduced Playboy to the world, bears almost no resemblance to today. We are more free to express ourselves politically, sexually and culturally today, and that’s in large part thanks to Hef’s heroic mission to expand those freedoms.”

A closer inspection of the CEO’s statement proved that he may be right in his assumptions. They are ripe for innovation, largely because the magazine has no choice but to evolve or face extinction. While many people are questioning the company’s decision to clothe itself in what it purports as change, a lot of people cannot deny that this is a sound business move on the part of the management.

Playboy has defied norms, taboos and existential modesty throughout the ages. The company is right, “Why stop now?”

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