business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Well, that didn't last long.

Playboy said this week that a year after it announced it would no longer feature naked women in the pages of its magazine, it now will once again feature nudity in its centerfolds and elsewhere.

To be clear, the decision to eliminate nudity was rooted in business, not morality. At the time, the magazine was conceding that nudity couldn't be its differential advantage when it is available on every computer and smartphone with an internet connection. (So I'm told.) And so, it had to create a magazine where people actually read it for the articles, as opposed to just saying that they read it for the articles while ogling the pictures.

Cooper Hefner, son of founder Hugh Hefner and the company's chief creative officer, wrote yesterday on Twitter, “I’ll be the first to admit that the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake ... Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem. Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are.”

Of course, the problem may simply be that Playboy has bigger problems - it may simply have passed its expiration date.

Playboy remains a magazine, I think, that you can't leave out on the coffee table or read on a train or plane. When they said they were getting away from nudity, they said that they wanted to get away from that image. If that didn't work, and the articles aren't good enough to justify reading the magazine, and they still have the problem of nudity being available from a wide range of sources, they have to face the fact that their value proposition simply isn't very compelling.

Maybe it just isn't a sustainable business model any more.

It would be an Eye-Opener for a magazine that was originally created to open people's eyes, but now seems better at putting readers to sleep.
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