Last week The Economist published (along with the rest of the world) an article about Playboy magazine’s decision to end nude photos in their publication, instead choosing to focus on their critically acclaimed long-form journalism, fiction pieces and other quality content, including iconic interviews with luminaries — the magazine has interviewed Martin Luther King, Jr., Miles Davis, President Jimmy Carter, Malcolm X, Bette Davis, Stanley Kurbrick, Ayn Rand and Steve Jobs, to name of few.
Photographer, copyright: Tom Kelley, Playboy | Marilyn Monroe was on the cover of the original issue and was the first centerfold in 1953
Playboy says they will continue to feature sensual photos of women, but they will be dressed — scantily clad — so to avoid the now-ubiquitous NSFW warning (Not Safe For Work), allowing audiences to click-without-worry at work, a cafe, on social media, or any public place.
What I found curious about The Economist article, though, was their title:
SEX DOESN’T SELL ANYMORE
AN AMERICAN ICON COVERS UP
I can’t believe the writer and editor got this so wrong.
If you’re talking about the sex industry…well, it’s the end-all-be-all of money-making industries, surpassing the profits of NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball combined, and listed above the movie industry and pharmaceuticals, so…
SEX DOES SELL.
AND IT SELLS MORE THAN EVER.
It just doesn’t sell in the archaic model Playboy refuses to veer from. I’m not talking pornography, either, because Vogue’s international editions, Interview, W, Vanity Fair, GQ, Treats and V magazine, etc., have similar levels of artistic nudity you see in Playboy.
TAKING A PAGE
The problem with Playboy magazine is that it needs to bring itself into the modern era rather than branding itself with a style that looks like they pulled their blonde models from a Motley Crüe video in the mid-80s.
THE DEATH OF
THE UBIQUITIOUS BLONDE
AND EMBRACING GLOBAL BEAUTY
We know Hugh Hefner likes mid-western-looking blondes. He’s from Chicago, so mid-western girls are probably his fantasy girl. But America is not — or never has been — a homogeneous country. It’s a multi-cultural melting-pot brimming with a plethora of interesting looks from all over the globe.
Moreover, countless studies show us that in the near future, the average American woman will look more like Rashida Jones than the Jenny-McCarthy look that Hef prefers.
Playboy did well by crowning Raquel Pomplun its 2013 Playmate of the Year, the first Mexican-American to be chosen for this honor, but it needs to keep going with this global, ethnic push.
Photo credit: Playboy | Raquel Pomplun, 2013 Playmate the of the Year
Furthermore, other magazines that never would have nudity in the past are now flourishing by casually adding fashionable nudes without batting an eye.
YET THIS WORLD-FAMOUS, ICONIC MAGAZINE IS KICKING AND FLAILING ITS ARMS TO KEEP ITS HEAD ABOVE WATER IN THE VERY SWIMMING POOL GROTTO IT MADE FAMOUS.
Why are major A-listers freely doing nudes for magazines that many people have never heard of? Why aren’t Madonna, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus or Miranda Kerr, or any other popular celebrities, posing for Playboy?
Because, outside of Playmate of the Year, posing for a general Playboy spread sounds as edgy as driving a wood-paneled Oldsmobile through the Kansas flatlands, while posing for V magazine is like driving a Tesla on the Grande Corniche in the south of France.
IT’S NOT ABOUT SEX NOT SELLING
IT’S ABOUT PLAYBOY
NOT HAVING A MODERN STYLE
AND THE SAVOIR FAIRE
TO CHANGE WITH THE TIMES.
In today’s competitive market, anyone can get free content and images online. And if you pay for an actual magazine because of the photographs, it better be stylized, fashionable, artistic and chic.
STLYE IS EVERYTHING!
YOU’RE OUT OF THE GAME.
STYLE CAN BE FIXED
IF THE BRAND STANDS ALONE
When Anna Wintour took over Vogue, she put a model in jeans on her first cover and the collective gasp from the publishing offices of Conde Naste could be heard like an echo vibrating through the Grand Canyon. But Wintour had to change Vogue with the times. The Jackie-O-worshiping, Chanel-suit-glove-wearing generation who once sustained the magazine was dying off and the new generation that was replacing them was the antithesis of that proper stuffiness.
GENERATION X WORE JEANS.
ANNA WINTOUR PLUGGED INTO THAT
AND INTRODUCED THE HIGH-LOW
STREET-STYLE WE KNOW TODAY.
Stonewashed jeans on the cover of Vogue! Model: Michaela Bercu Photo credit: Peter Lindbergh, Vogue, November 1988
Another journalistic mainstay, The Hollywood Reporter, was floundering before it was relaunched in 2010 under the direction of Janice Min.
I was working at movie studio at the time and I remember finding THR to be an unprovocative, text-laden trade paper. Not only was the daily publication 80-years-old, but it seemed like it was put together by an 80-year-old man.
When the new weekly, glossy large-format, visually-driven version was released, I sought it out, even saving some of my favorite issues for coffee table accents that often prompted double-takes and conversations from my guests.
With the editorial vision of Janice Min, a “new” publication was born — but it built upon the Reporter’s solid, established brand — enabling it to compete with the competition because it changed with the times.
Models and actresses are now clamoring to be on the cover of the last nude Playboy (but no other issue before the historic last) Why? Because Playboy is an icon…a flailing icon…but still an icon and brand that people associate with cool-glamour and sexiness.
PLAYBOY STILL EVOKES AN IMAGE
OF A PUBLICATION WHERE SEX
IS SEXY, NOT OBSCENE.
C’mon, who doesn’t want to be invited to hobnob at one of the Playboy Mansion’s legendary annual parties?
A model performs at the annual Playboy Mansion Halloween Party, on October 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Photo credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Playboy
WOODY ALLEN WROTE A LINE IN HIS MOVIE “MATCH POINT”:
“THERE ARE MOMENTS IN LIFE WHEN THE BALL HITS THE TOP OF THE NET, AND FOR A SPLIT SECOND, IT CAN EITHER GO FORWARD OR FALL BACK.”
Playboy is right there, with its ball on the top of the net. If it can change with the times, fill its offices with the right people, its ball will go forward. If it can’t change, the ball will fall back and we will be soon going to visit the Playboy Museum to ohh-and-ahh over the vanguard it once was.
AS A CONTENT PROVIDER
I CAN TELL YOU THAT
CONTENT IS KING.
BUT…IT IS ONLY KING
IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT CONTENT
AND STYLISH, INNOVATIVE
PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM.
Call me Playboy, I can help you out.
The Cherie Bomb, founder and editor-in-chief, Cheryl Diaz, with Raquel Pomplun, the first Mexican-American Playboy Playmate of the Year.