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Why did Playboy flip-flop on its no-nude decision?

Men's magazine teases upcoming 'Naked Is Normal' issue

 

Playboy made waves when it announced in 2015 that beginning in March 2016, it would no longer feature nude pictorials, but that groundbreaking decision lasted just under a year, begging the question: Why the big change…again?

After Playboy shifted to non-nude issues, newsstand sales jumped 28 percent. Subscription sales, meanwhile, fell 23 percent, but a Playboy rep said at the time that the change was all going exactly how the Playboy had expected.

In September 2016, a rep for Playboy told Fox News the brand had recently acquired 100,000 new subscribers, and it was “an indication that the magazine is starting to generate interest among a new group of readers.” Plus, sales were technically up.

But behind the scenes at Playboy, things were going less smoothly.

According to The New York Post, Editorial Director Hugh Garvey resigned last month, just five months after he was appointed in place of Jason Buhrmester. Similarly, Creative Director Mac Lewis recently resigned and was replaced by his assistant creative director.

This all came as Cooper Hefner, who was named Chief Creative Officer in October 2016, criticized the magazine’s non-nude decision in public. Hefner’s role at the company hasn’t been without drama either – the 25-year-old son of founder Hugh Hefner took time away from Playboy after he lambasted the company’s leadership in February 2016 and declared they needed to be "moved out."

"… I do not agree with the decisions and direction the company is actually going in," the Cooper Hefner said when he announced he was taking time away from Playboy. "I was essentially asked to no longer participate in the board meetings because I didn't agree with his vision for the company. You either sort of take a step back and say, 'Ok, I'm going to let this happen' or you try and do something about it."

#NakedIsNormal

A photo posted by Playboy (@playboy) on

It seems reinstating the nude pics may be a product of the younger Hefner getting his way. He was the one to announce the decision to go back to nude pictorials on Monday in a statement that called the choice to remove nudity from the magazine entirely "a mistake."

PR expert Marc Marcuse, of Reel Management, said removing nudity may have been a ploy for attention for the at time struggling brand.

"Temporarily removing nudity from Playboy was probably just a publicity stunt to begin with, and this probably was their plan all along," he told Fox News. "Playboy without nudity, even dated in its depiction, is like Christmas without Santa Claus."

Another public relations expert Ryan McCormick cautioned going nude once again could prove problematic for Playboy.

"I think this decision is perplexing and may [end] up hurting Playboy in the long term," he said. "They now risk alienating new subscribers who came on board in the past year because there was no nudity. Also, Playboy's readers who unsubscribed because of the original nudity ban, may not necessarily return. If Playboy was doing financially better without nudity, why fix something if it's not broken?” 

Playboy told Fox News it wouldn't make any additional comments at this time regarding the switch back.

You can follow Blanche Johnson on Twitter @blancheFOXLA.