Playboy replaces Photoshop with Snapchat and selfies

After scrolling violently through my Feedly, trying to locate an article that both resonated with me and felt relevant to this class, I finally found it. Playboy. Hear me out- this ended up being totally worth analyzing.

The RSS feed for FishbowlNY, constructed by Richard Horgan, shared a post yesterday about Playboy’s first non-nude Playmate, Dree Hemingway (great-granddaughter of American novelist Ernest Hemingway). The article touched on some really good points.

First, let’s state the obvious. Playboy is known for its risque photo shoots, centerfolds and racy ads. Its famous tagline, “Entertainment for Men” has graced the cover of every issue since 1953. Not anymore.

In October, Playboy announced that the magazine would be undergoing a major remodel. In with the new and out with the nude. (Not really; full-nudity will still exist, just a little more concealed.) As the magazine said goodbye to its old look with its final full-nudity issue featuring Pamela Anderson, it was saying hello to a completely new version of itself. That’s where Hemingway comes in, as well as the new design tactic Playboy selected.

Playboy released an advance copy of its March ’16 issue and these were my first reactions:


  1. Snapchat font, is that you??
  2. Is this girl really taking a selfie?
  3. She is beautiful, but looks a little young and innocent for Playboy. What gives?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized these choices make a lot of sense. A large part of Playboy’s strategy in revamping itself is to appeal to a younger crowd.

  1. Snapchat is like the face of the millennial generation. At first I immediately thought how cheap and cheesy this looked, but after further review, it kind of nails exactly what the magazine is trying to do. While it still appears a little aesthetically tacky, it instantly makes the image more relatable. This text is highly recognizable and super accessible; anyone between the ages of 15-35 could probably name its origin.
  2. The selfie. This, too, makes a lot of sense. Our generation lives and breathes selfies. The term was even added the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The composition of this image is almost an obvious choice. We are so used to seeing photographs that include one arm sticking out of the frame, that this particular photo shouldn’t even faze us. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t think twice about it until I found the NY Times article that this post stemmed from.
  3. The vast majority of Playboy’s past Playmates (try saying that ten times fast) might have been young, but were so overly airbrushed and sexily posed that readers didn’t view them that way. Now, with this new approach, models in the magazine look less retouched, therefore not as aged, if you will. That’s because they are. Playboy stated that with the remodel, they planned on making the magazine look more refined, contemporary. See ya, Photoshop. The young and innocent look again appeals to the younger crowd, but not based solely on the girls’ appearances. Along with less retouching, Playboy boldly got rid of its cluttered pages that resembled your grandpa’s attic and opted for more white space. Because of mobile accessibility, white space and symmetry have become a more valued layout technique. Not only does it help with readability on a digital screen, but it is much more modern.

This whole thing intrigued me. I am not, nor have I ever been a reader of Playboy. I knew about the remodel because the media covered so much of it. I didn’t necessarily know why or how the magazine would change, but now that I take a closer look, I understand it. Our way of accessing things like magazines has changed drastically due to the digital revolution. The millennial generation is the present and the future of this innovation, so it seems smart to transform things to fit that mold.

Playboy is doing something right, if you ask me. For print, maybe the magazine will struggle with this remodel, but its readership has already decreased since the introduction of digital media, so really, what do they have to lose?

Here is a link to Playboy’s first non-nude Playmate bio: Dree Hemingway

Image taken from NY Times.



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