Playboy Goes Prude Then Nude – The Boobies Are Back

playboy goes prude

In 2015, Playboy surprised the world by stating that there would not be any more nudity in the printed magazine.  Nude Playboy was gone!  In an attempt to save the empire, Hugh Hefner realized that his business needed to change if he wanted to continue to make it grow.  Quickly local headlines announced “Playboy Goes Prude”.  Removing the nudity was what Hefner felt would bring the magazine more mainstream.

Playboy was trying to get more advertisers to finance the entire business, and get more distribution locations that previously would not sell adult magazines.  “Playboy goes Prude” was hailed as a feminist win, and overnight, the nude Playboy was history.

But it wasn’t about feminism at all.  Hefner was trying to repeat what he had done in 1953 – to surprise the world with something pioneer.  And that “new” idea was to have Playboy without nudes.  When you considered that they were only after advertisers and distribution locations, Hefner’s “Playboy goes Prude” idea sounded like a winner.  

The fact was, Playboy was more than simple “nudity”.  Many of us remember the expression "I read it for the articles"!   And over the years, Playboy discovered that they possessed a huge readership – and those readers really were paying attention to what Playboy writers wrote each month.

When the magazine was created, it had cultured, literate men as a target audience.  And they just happened to like nude women mixed in with their sophisticated reading.  Nude Playboy was the "go-to" for beautiful women AND cutting-edge news.

If this wasn't true, Playboy would have never been able to interview Steve Jobs or Mike Davis, or feature the work of famous writers like Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, and Margaret Atwood.  

Besides advertising and distribution, Hefner was trying to replicate the success of the television show “Girls Next Door”, which had a surprisingly large female following.  And because of “Girls Next Door”, the brand was attracting a younger, and more female audience – an audience Playboy never had – and an audience that advertisers wanted.

The “Playboy goes Prude” announcement was met with snide remarks and sarcasm throughout.  Even non-readers of the magazine didn’t think it could survive without the nude spreads and centerfolds.

First – Playboy goes Prude — Then Back To Nude Playboy!

It was a fast turnaround.  As the naysayers would have it, the days of a nude-free Playboy were limited.  In February of 2017, the magazine announced that the “Playboy goes Prude” program was a mistake.

Cooper Hefner, Hugh's son, was the first one to announce the big news on his Twitter account.  He said that the old Playboy magazine was outdated but removing the playboy nudes completely had been a mistake.  Many loyal Playboy followers always wondered if Cooper Hefner would get involved in the running the company as others in the Hefner family had.  

Cooper further stated to the media that “Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn't a problem”, which is a very unique and profound statement.  Which when translated, means, "Ok, we messed up".  

It's important to remember that Cooper was actually one of the most important voices against the “Playboy Goes Prude” campaign a year ago.  At the time, he gave an interview to the Business Insider where he admitted that he was completely against the new policy as he believed the new policy did not make sense.  And now, returning to Playboy as its chief creative officer (CCO) last year, he's showing us he was right.  

One point in favor of Cooper is the fact that he doesn't seem arrogant.  In fact, he even says that "Some aspects of the brand won’t alter, as there have been a number of successful creative and business pivots over the last few years that are worthy of celebration.  However, as we close in on our 64th year as an organization, I can assure you certain aspects of our formula will change." 

So, what to expect from Playboy this time? Are we going to continue to have playboy nudes or will the nudes disappear again? Only time will tell.   

But don’t worry, we can all keep reading Playboy for the articles.  


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