Playboy stops using nude photos in order to target women


Opinion Column: Essentially Essex


Playboy Magazine is a household name and publication that focuses on nude women, particularly those with very large breasts and butts. Hugh Hefner is the ringleader, and the Playboy bunnies — the girls who are always by his side — are technically his followers. Playboy’s art director reportedly designed the Playboy logo in about 10 minutes, and today it is one of the most recognized trademarks in the world. The first ever Playboy issue was published in December 1953, Marilyn Monroe was on the cover and it sold 5,000 copies. Anyone who knows about or has looked at an edition of Playboy would never have guessed that getting rid of nudity is the latest marketing change. How does a magazine that was so well-known for their nudes, now sell a magazine without nudes? Who is the new demographic, and why?

The most well-known part of the magazine is the Playmate feature. It is a pinup picture in the middle of the magazine with a triple page centerfold. Slowly, through the development of the magazine, Hefner and the Playmates changed popular culture. Oddly, in 1962, Playboy introduced the “Playboy philosophy” written by Hugh Hefner. In response to the criticism of the magazine’s principles, Hefner wrote 25 installments defending the paper’s integrity. As if to prove this was a good thing because any good thing has principles, right?

In 1971, Playboy purchased the Playboy Mansion that Hefner made his home where he lives with his 20-something-year-old blonde sex mates for lack of a better descriptor. This is one the creepiest, yet most effective marketing features Playboy has. The company changed the Mansion from just Hefner’s home to a place where VIP celebrities can hang out and girls can live. In 1982, Playboy launched a national pay-per-view cable television service, and by 1994, it expanded to 24-hour programming and became the first national magazine to launch its own website. From there on, Playboy rapidly became the leading entertainment and lifestyle destination for men online. Fast forward to the early 2000s when the TV show “The Girls Next Door” Launched on E!. For me, this was a guilty pleasure, and I was fascinated to know how these girls lived and why they decided to live this lifestyle and have sex with a 70-year-old man just to be able to live the life of luxury. It’s such a weird trade off. Could that life really be worth degrading your self-worth to such a level?

In 2014, Playboy celebrated its 60th anniversary and can be recognized as a way for males ranging from teenage boys to old men to find their pleasure. That’s 60 years of idealizing women, 60 years of objectifying women and making these the “cool” things to do.

The magazine's new makeover is much more PG-13. No nudes will be featured, although women in suggestive poses are still the focus. Similarly, there is still a debate about whether or not the centerfold will still be featured. So why is this happening? Is Playboy losing its relevance? Are they trying to crawl back from irrelevance? According to the New York Times, interestingly enough, Playboy is trying to gain female readers. How will Playboy make this attractive to women? Even though no nudes will be shown, that doesn't make me want to run and grab a copy. What is in the magazine for the female population to gain? The website stopped featuring nudity in August of this past summer, and the traffic has surprisingly increased from 4 to 16 million viewers. The new audience is now 18 to 30-year-olds. This age group makes up the social media generation, but they are not going to share Playboy with their friends on Facebook or Twitter because that would be too racy.

This change could possibly allow Playboy to go back to its original focus, which was investigative journalism. In the past, there was a running joke that one would be reading Playboy for the articles. Although I don’t know if this change will help Playboy “get with the times,” I agree with this statement made by Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism at Oxford: “What’s hurting Playboy today is, one, its name. What gentleman today wants to consider himself a Playboy? And the competition. I mean, GQ, is doing such a great job and Esquire is doing such a great job, so for men who want that combination of fun and real good solid content, they go somewhere else.” Only time will tell what this new change will bring — will they accomplish their goal? I’m not sure, but it is a step in the right direction. Pornography is already a growing industry, so changing Playboy is likely a move to get on par with GQ and Esquire, while still trying to keep their original brand — and this won’t be easy.

Diana Essex is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her column, “Essentially Essex,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.


Diana Essex

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