Forget What They Told You--Playboy Now Says 'Naked Is Normal'

Image via Playboy.
Image via Playboy.

In late 2015, Playboy announced it would be a nudie mag no more. Their final issue featuring nipples and vag shots came out in January/February 2016, with Pamela Anderson on the cover, signifying the end of an era. It’s now the end of the new era.

The first no-nude issue featured the distant descendant of Ernest Hemingway, Dree Hemingway, in a much more modern spread. It had the self-aware throwback look of an American Apparel ad layered with your most flattering Instagram filters; plus, she was sexting. But Dree was technically nude: she just had hands strategically placed over the most interesting bits.

Hugh Hefner’s son, Cooper, has complained about the direction Playboy went in with this new marketing scheme. The New York Post reports that, after Cooper was made chief creative officer last October, it has been his mission to abolish the no nude policy that actually still included women posed relatively nude.


Their March/April issue is titled “Naked Is Normal” and they’re promising plenty of nudity to prove it. Cooper Hefner tweeted a statement about the magazines new-old look that’s a photo of himself with a quote attributed to himself, saying, “I’ll be the first to admit the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake. Nudity was never the problem, because nudity isn’t a problem. Today, we’re taking our identity back and rediscovering who we are.”

The issue will also include some old Playboy mainstays, including a letter from Cooper that solidifies him as the heir apparent of the brand:

  • Cooper Hefner’s updated take on The Playboy Philosophy, penned nearly 40 years after his father’s last installment in the 1960’s, which converses about the current political and cultural climate in the US.
  • The return of Playboy’s “Party Jokes” that provide a quick beat of humor and celebrates the playful side of the brand.
  • The debut of the “Heritage” section which shares the magazine’s past point of view that is more relevant today than ever before.

So, the new stylistic choices may stay in place when the careful hand placement is disrupted. Though frankly, this (as well as their choice to “drop” nudity in the first place) is all mostly semantics; as the Post notes, “The new issue displays breasts and butts, but not full frontal nudity that had typified the earlier incarnation before the switch with the March issue a full year earlier.”


The decision to “eliminate nudes” made it easier to sell the magazine in-store, but subscription sales reportedly plummeted. There has also been a scramble behind the scenes as the transition team for Playboy largely resigned or was replaced over the last few months since Cooper took over. The new changes could be read as an Original Coke stunt move if it weren’t for these internal shake ups, which have occurred consistently over the past several years with each new attempt at a rebrand. Playboy was once excellent at marketing itself, but with every new decision, its branding issues are completely exposed.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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Yeah, ladies, naked is the new normal! Sending nudes is the new handshake! Women who are proud enough of their bodies to show them off makes men respect them MORE!

And he also has a bridge to sell you once he totally deletes those nudes off his phone like he said he would...