Following several months of reported success at the newsstand since they dropped fully nude women from appearing in the magazine, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has stepped down from his position of Chief Creative Officer due to reportedly ailing health (the dude is 90 after all).
The New York Post writes that Cooper Hefner, Hefner’s 25-year-old son from his second marriage, long bandied about as the heir to the magazine’s throne, has taken over the position, though Cooper actually apparently tweeted about the news back in August.
But the appointment has apparently ruffled a lot of feathers at the company, given that Cooper was an active opponent of the shift towards becoming a more family-friendly publication, just the latest in the magazine’s long winding road back to greater relevancy and profits. It’s a big shift from February, when he told Business Insider he was being pushed out of meetings by the company’s CEO over disagreements about the brand. While Cooper wouldn’t tell the Post whether he would bring back full-on nudity, he didn’t deny that he would prefer it.
“Some aspects of the brand won’t alter, as there have been a number of successful creative and business pivots over the last few years that are worthy of celebration,” he told Media Ink in a less-than-clear e-mail. “However, as we close in on our 64th year as an organization, I can assure you certain aspects of our formula will change. We are currently implementing a creative strategy for the brand moving forward. Let’s just say, 2017 will be a big year for our rabbit.”
“I didn’t agree with the decision because I felt as though millennials and Gen-Y didn’t view nudity as the issue,” Cooper had said to BI. “The issue was the way in which the nudity and girls were portrayed.”
Since dropping nudity and rebranding as a more modern men’s magazine, with soft-focus images and the like, Playboy has reportedly seen a 28 percent sale jump at newsstands, and gotten positive press for doing things like featuring the first woman in their pages to wear a hijab. In turn, we can assume their lucrative branding opportunities have improved as well. But the Post says that several staffers are out (some apparently against their will, like former Chief Content Officer Cory Jones, who had pushed for the no-nudity switch, and others because they disagreed with Cooper’s appointment), making this yet another shake-up for the publication.
And there’s probably plenty more coming down the pipeline: there have been reports that the company is exploring a sale, and they recently sold off the Playboy Mansion. Though, despite reports, Hefner would still like it to be known that he’s doing fine: these are his most recent tweets: