Like other consumer magazines, men’s magazine Playboy is struggling.
Declining circulation and advertising have slammed the monthly magazine, which was founded in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and famously featured nude photos of actress Marilyn Monroe in its first issue.
Circulation peaked at more than 7 million in 1972. Playboy now sells about 3 million issues a month in the U.S.
Scott Flanders, the incoming CEO of parent company Playboy Enterprises, says he believes Playboy magazine has a future.
“I’m a big believer in print — particularly the viability for glossy magazines,” he told Folio magazine. “That reader experience can’t and won’t be duplicated online, even where I see the reader technology moving."
Playboy hasn’t lost its relevance, he said. “I believe the magazine will come back,” said Flanders, who begins his new role on July 1.
When I was an adolescent growing up in the 1970s in Illinois, getting your hands on an issue of Playboy was a big deal for boys. Looking back, that truly was a simpler time.
Playboy today is tame compared with the hardcore pornography available for free on the Internet. Why would some guy shell out more than $5 for a copy of Playboy when pictures of attractive, sexy women are just a mouse click away?
Yes, Playboy is about more than the pictures of beautiful women. The cliché was always that men would say they read it for the articles. Throughout its history, Playboy has published high-profile interviews with politicians, artists, economists, athletes and other public figures, as well as short fiction from prominent authors.
It’s a classy, dignified magazine, but it’s also dull and doesn’t speak to young men today. It has an old-fashioned, snooty, high brow air about it. It has favored jazz and cocktails over rock-n-roll and beer. “Lad” magazines like Maxim and FMH eventually filled that niche.
My suggestion for Playboy magazine is to become much more aggressive in pursuing the libertarian bent that it has always expressed on political and social issues.
It should take a leadership role on issues such as the legalization and regulation of marijuana and prostitution. It should take politicians to task for wasteful spending and unnecessary legislation. It should propose answers for fixing the massive problems with government today.
Playboy could become a must-read when it comes to thoughtful advocacy articles and investigative stories that espouse libertarian views.
Then, men really would have a reason to buy the magazine “for the articles.”