Re-Branded Playboy: Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen
Late last year, Playboy magazine shocked the world with its announcement that after pioneering the genre for more than half a century, it would no longer be featuring nudity. But has the change worked for business?
The abrupt change in branding was brought on by the abundance of nudity online and changes in pop culture, with things like SnapChat leading the way in internet picture sharing, and even being the theme of the first re-branded cover. Playboy looked to change their primary demographic from men in their 40s to reclaim their once dominated demo of men ages 18 to 32. The change for the magazine wasn't as simple as covering up their pictorial models, the entire magazine was changed cover-to-cover.
The featuring of nudity isn't what made the magazine great, it was its style. Playboy had a known style from its pictorials, articles, interviews, jokes, etc. You could find a random magazine open on the ground and immediately know it was Playboy because of its style, a style which is now gone. They've kept the beloved articles like the Playboy Interview and the Playboy Adviser, and as ridiculous as it may sound, they look different and that makes them feel different. Jokes on the back of the centerfold are gone, no more hidden bunny logo on the cover, longer articles aren't continued in the back of the issue, and beautifully staged and lit photoshoots have been replaced with the best of artistic Instagram style shots.
Another iconic piece of Playboy history that was tossed in the trash bin was the cartoons. Back on Valentine's Day this year, longtime Playboy artist Dean Yeagle posted on Facebook that he received word that the magazine would no longer be accepting submissions,
Yeagle told Co. Create that though Hugh Hefner had been a supporter of cartoonists, all he received from the magazine was a letter from cartoon editor Amanda Warren saying,
As I’m sure you’re aware, we’ve been undergoing a major redesign of the magazine and the updated Playboy will launch with its March 2016 issue. It pains me to say this, while I can’t speak to the specifics of this revision just yet, I do want to let you know that we are presently not accepting new cartoon submissions.
Such an extreme change reeks of desperation on the part of Playboy, obviously needing to change what hasn't been working to maintain business. However, arguments could be made that Playboy changed too much. Instead of taking a detailed approach to repair past mistakes, the magazine has taken the path of burning the place down and hoping a phoenix will rise from the ashes. Shortly after the re-branding, the Guardian reported that Playboy Enterprises was put up for sale with the asking price of $500 million. Not a good way to start a new direction.
I've had a subscription to the magazine since I was 17, and yes I read the articles. The magazine had been on a noticeable decline over the past several years. Recent Playmates of the Year haven't broken into mainstream Pop Culture like Jenny McCarthy and Anna Nicole Smith did, the price of the magazine went up while the page count went down, and the biggest celebrity pictorial they could scrape together was Lindsay Lohan. My subscription came up for renewal around the same time as the re-branding, and I decided to renew for another year to give it a chance. And quite honestly, I haven't even cracked open the last two issues.
Have you checked out Playboy since the change? What do you think of it? Think it was enough to save the company and assure its future?