Playboy magazine has been a staple of American culture since it showed up on the scene in 1953. Back then, the innovation of openly publishing nude photographs of women was all but unheard of. Flash forward to today, and female nudity is as easy to find as point and click.
Playboy opened the door for the modern pornography industry, but now the innovative brand has become lackluster in that same industry’s modern shadow.
So what can be done?
Playboy has confused elimination for evolution.
To the folks at Playboy, these are NOT the same thing.
Here’s what you need to do, in my humble opinion as a consumer, to make the Playboy brand matter again.
CHANGE FROM “ENTERTAINMENT FOR MEN” TO “ENTERTAINMENT FOR ADMIRERS OF WOMEN”
Playboy is (was) no longer read exclusively by men living – or hoping to live – the perpetual life of a frat boy. This may come as a shock to the folks behind the magazine, but women love looking at beautiful nude women, too. Not just lesbians or bisexuals, either. In an age where gender identification is becoming less and less relevant, you need concentrate on the content and not the (assumed) readers of the content.
Women love looking at beautiful nude women – more than you might think.
Embrace that fact by evolving the direction of Playboy to be a celebration of the female form, not the stereotyped perception of the female form that “men” think is out there. That latter viewpoint is already served heavily by the Internet and you’ll never compete with that.
LEARN FROM SPORTS ILLUSTRATED PART 1: A VARIETY OF WOMEN.
The most recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue did something extremely bold: it offered three different cover models. One slender, one plus-sized, and one athletic. Why? Simply put: Sports Illustrated knows that no single female “type” is the archetype for modern beauty. Different people find different things attractive in other humans. Size. Curves. Athleticism.
Following in the footsteps of my first suggestion, present Playboy as a publication that sets the standard for “admirers of women”. All women. Confidence is sexy – and showing confidence from nude women in a wide spectrum opens the door for men to see that, and for women to celebrate it.
LEARN FROM SPORTS ILLUSTRATED PART 2: MAKE PLAYMATES MATTER AGAIN
A friend of mine pointed this one out to me – and he was right. Being a Playboy Playmate used to be a prestige thing. It was a coveted achievement, but it stopped being so at some point. I had a subscription to Playboy in 2015 – you know, for the articles – and I noticed something about the Playmates. Sure, they were all beautiful, but they were variations of the same thing. Usually a young coed in her early to mid-twenties with almost always the same body type.
Being the covergirl for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is still a big deal, and SI stepped up their game again this year to make it matter. If Playboy were less about entertaining men and more about celebrating the beauty of women, you would probably be able to attract a number of celebrities who enjoy their bodies and nudity.
Miley Cyrus would probably pose for a magazine about celebrating women – but not “entertainment for men”. Just saying.
ATTRACT WRITERS AGAIN
Shifting the tone of Playboy would open the door for writers to return to the short story medium again. Remember when James Bond was published in Playboy? Exactly. Evolving the magazine to be more in tune with modern sexuality could (and, would, in my opinion) draw out strong authors with messages and tales to tell without fear of perpetuating the male stereotype.
Evolve – not eliminate.
There’s more I could nitpick and point to, but these are all the key points I notice the most. Do with them what you will.