I wrote a blog last year questioning the wisdom of Playboy magazine’s decision to eliminate nude content — see here. My point then, and I still believe it – was that Playboy would be a perfectly fine magazine in that format but that it would have a hard time competing with others in that niche – Esquire, GQ, Maxim.
Well.. it turns out I was partially right, partially wrong. In terms of revenues, apparently the non-nude format has managed to pick up some new advertisers and is expanding its revenue base. In print media these days this is really a big deal – no one is expanding advertising in print. So… well done.
But are the customers happy? Apparently not. People still feel nostalgic for the ‘old Playboy’. So much so that Hugh Heffner’s son, a senior executive on the magazine, has said he wants to return to having nude photo spreads. Current CEO Ben Koen is opposed, fearing he will lose all the new advertisers that refused to purchase space in a nudie magazine. It is apparently shaping up to be a big fight in the Playboy ranks but Hef’s son has promised nude content by next year.
Personally, I like the new Playboy. The writing is crisp and he articles topical. I actually prefer it to virtually all of its main competitors – Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair… and its a hundred times better than Maxim and FFM. Would I like nudity as well? Sure.. but not if it means the magazine would not be viable. And this is where we need to be practical. It is near impossible to keep a print magazine profitable these days. If Playboy has found a way to do it by eliminating nude content… they may be well advised to stick with that formula.