Tuesday, May 31, 2016

As Predicted PLAYBOY's No Nudes Experiment Is Found Wanting

cover
Inaugural PLAYBOY with no nudes, I gave it a pass. Since then, it looks more like a 1980s' hippy-cum- slacker mag with no identity.

As I originally forecast, e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/10/playboy-opts-to-go-without-nudes-why.html

Playboy made a rather large mistake by altering its brand after more than sixty years. As I noted in the above link:

"One need only look at the "New Coke" fiasco from 30 -odd years ago when Coke - bummed by lethargic sales - decided to go to a new formula for its flagship drink.  In an article on it, Wikipedia notes:

'New Coke was the unofficial popular name for the reformulation of Coca-Cola introduced in the spring of 1985 by The Coca-Cola Company to replace the original formula of its flagship soft drink, Coca-Cola (also called Coke). New Coke originally had no separate name of its own, but was simply known as "the new taste of Coca-Cola" until 1992 when it was renamed Coca-Cola II.
Coca-Cola's market share had been steadily losing ground to Pepsi and the company suspected that consumers preferred the latter's sweeter taste, which they confirmed via numerous blind taste tests. However, the American public's reaction to the change was negative, even hostile, and the new cola was a major marketing failure. The subsequent reintroduction less than three months later of Coke's original formula, re-branded as "Coca-Cola Classic", resulted in a significant gain in sales' 

In other words, the company was forced to eat humble pie three months later, because its sales were plummeting. The same will happen to PLAYBOY. The lesson, which they ought to have learned, is you do not mess with or change an expected formula. It doesn't matter if their sales -subscriptions have gone down to 800,000 from a million 2 years ago."

I did give the March issue fair marks, but that was because of the novelty more than anything else, and I had automatically lowered the threshold for acceptance after assuming the worst. In other words I'd almost certainly (and unconsciously) set the bar lower. The following three issues (April, May, June) have not impressed at all and I have not renewed my subscription. The models all appear listless, and wishing they could be anywhere else - or maybe enjoying a toke. The articles and interviews have fallen since the March issue.

In the aftermath, perhaps the best take on the damage Playboy has done to itself comes from a FORTUNE piece by Susannah Breslin, 'No Nudes Playboy Is Here And It's Terrible, e.g

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2016/04/04/playboy-no-nudes/#7f55567b52cd

Among her problems (which match my own) as Ms. Breslin portrays them:

"It’s not on brand
The secret sauce of Playboy wasn’t so much the naked girl. It was the feeling that looking at one lounging across its pages gave you. It felt transgressive. It felt like you were doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing. It felt somehow naughty. With the naughty bits covered up, that titillation, the emotional relationship between you and the product is gone. And without that, well, you’ve got nothing.

It levels the playing field
The toughest consequence of Playboy covering up its models in order to better compete for advertising dollars is that it makes the magazine just like its competitors. There’s no competitive edge. Playboy hadn’t been fading because the women were naked. It was fading because it didn’t know how to reinvent itself. By contrast, take a look at the modern-day Lui, a French magazine wherein nudity abounds that numbers Rihanna among its nude models. With its high-end aesthetic, Lui is far more Pirelli than Penthouse. Last year, editor-in-chief Frederic Beigbeder described his revamp of Lui as “something very glamorous, very high society.” The new Playboy feels more like Details and Maxim had a party and some girls showed up to act listless. The new Playboy‘s literary offerings don’t fare much better. The ghost of Hunter S. Thompson is nowhere to be found."


And the real killer:

"It’s not feminist
It’s hard not to flip through the new Playboy and conclude this is the strangled male desire that feminism hath wrought. This magazine seeks desperately not to offend. It seems to want very much to do the right thing. In doing so, it doesn’t do much of anything"

IN other words, the magazine "pussed" out to appease the feminists, leaving the mag appealing only to a bunch of Millennial eunuchs or guys afraid of female genitals.

As I noted in my original, critical post:

Already informal online polls of male readers by the Atlanta Journal & Constitution show that nearly 8 in 10 would rather cancel their PLAYBOY subscriptions than continue for a magazine that opts to dilute its content in order to appease online "platforms" which have less tolerance for the nudity. Most of those online connections, including the PLAYBOY web site, attract Millennials of average age 30 who are not so into nude females. They want them partially dressed as in MAXIM.

The problem is that the older demographic that reads the print PLAYBOY, isn't like that. They are fully invested in the expectation that the mag doesn't suddenly "change stripes" and expect them to pay for the change.


Ms Breslin ends her FORTUNE piece:

"Playboy claims to have cleaned up its act as a way of differentiating itself from the endless sea of porn online. In doing so, they’re reporting ad dollars are up, they’ve improved in-store product placement, and they’re targeting their millennial demographic. We’ll see how long that lasts. They’ve created no pull towards it. Just scantily clad girls who hope not to shock and end up looking bored to tears."

And I ended my post from Oct. 14, 2015 noting:

 The argument by some in the PLAYBOY empire that "there is already a glut of porn online so PLAYBOY doesn't need to duplicate it" , also doesn't hold up to scrutiny. For one thing, nude centerfolds identified PLAYBOY long before there was an internet. In addition, the aspect that has distinguished all PLAYBOY nudes is their quality and class.  By contrast, most online porn is precisely lacking in class, the very opposite of what PLAYBOY embodies. So the dictum that "it's already there" is basically telling existing PLAYBOY subscribers not to embrace PLAYBOY's soft porn imagery any more ...but "go for the gutter."

The problem PLAYBOY faces can be boiled down to this: Do away with the nudes and centerfolds to make the magazine comport with the more prudish content demands of assorted online social media  platforms, likely losing 500,000 print subscribers in the process -  OR keep the magazine content as it has historically been and accept smaller readership going forward but not a catastrophic collapse.


This is what I am still convinced will happen. We will see.

To me it's another case of a venerable, iconic name selling out to appease the fascist corporate masters who really run this country.And we know among the first to be eliminated in Hitler's death camps were pornographers (from the Weimar Republic) along with gypsies and all those deemed mentally deficient.

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