Playboy is no longer going to feature images of naked women in its once vaunted magazine. The iconoclastic magazine has announced, beginning with its March 2016 issue – some 63 years after its debut, the once revolutionary publication is now a follower. It’ll be more like Maxim than Penthouse.
The publication, founded by 89-year-old Hugh Hefner, has been losing money in the United States, though the company has been profitable, based on licensing deals and foreign editions. For a surprising moment, the magazine declared it is turning its back on the classic sales formula that sex sells.
In a digital world where free porn is readily available, how can a printed magazine with photos – and no videos – compete?
Playboy’s monthly circulation dropped from 5.6 million 40 years ago to a paltry 800,000 now – over an 80% decline. It used to land prime-time celebrities to pose, including Madonna, Sharon Stone, and Naomi Campbell.
I’m not sure how the strategy to be the Cosmopolitan for men will pay off. It is very odd to think the publication that endured all kinds of court cases, boycotts, and legal scrutiny, will now just suddenly give up what had been hard fought for. Playboy defined female beauty for decades. Now it defines what?
Maybe we’ve entered a new era. Are we saying photography can’t compete with moving images? Is a word now worth a thousand pictures?
It is interesting that we’re reverting back to the basics. Playboy thinks talking about nudity or sex – rather than showing it – will entice more readers. Erotic books have exploded at a time when free digital porn has also grown by big numbers. Erotic books like 50 Shades of Grey merely work with words and no images but the ones readers conjure up in their heads. Perhaps Playboy is onto something here.
On the other hand, it seems crazy that the magazine that revolutionized the American sexual culture is now going into hiding, a victim of the free speech it had championed. Now our society is so liberal that we can access nudity 24-7, for free, in the comfort and privacy of our homes or wherever. But why is America tiring of photography?
Maybe the magazine should rethink what kind of models it features and how it captures them. Perhaps their photography grew boring and unimaginative. Maybe the magazine needs a makeover, but not a ban on nudity. It needs to rethink the role it plays in helping Americans have a sexually fulfilling life. It can advance the conversation without removing its signature content. Words mean a lot, but Playboy may not survive on words alone.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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