Playboy’s first nudity-free issue is on the newsstands. But not everyone agrees with the decision by the iconic men’s lifestyle magazine to stop publishing pictures of naked women in favor of (relatively) more modest cheesecake shots.
In an interview with Business Insider this week, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s soon Cooper Hefner slammed the publication’s management for this and other moves, elaborating in an op-ed.
Hefner, 24, son of the Hugh Hefner and 1989 Playboy Playmate of the Year Kimberly Conrad, and one of the founder’s four children, argued that nudity is so central to the Playboy brand that removing it renders the brand incoherent.
“When you have a company and the founder is responsible for kick-starting the sexual revolution and then you pluck out that aspect of the company's DNA by removing the nudity, it makes a lot of people including me sit and say: ‘What the hell is the company doing?’”
While the company justified the decision as a move to cater to younger readers, Hefner countered: “I didn’t agree with the decision, because I felt as though millennials and Gen-Y didn’t view nudity as the issue. The issue was the way in which nudity and the girls were portrayed.
Hefner also criticized the decision to put the Playboy Mansion up for sale, on similar grounds: “It really represents the brand, and to take that asset away from the company is really devastating.”
The younger Hefner said that as a result of these and other disagreements with Playboy CEO Scott Flanders, he is now persona non grata with the company’s management. “I was essentially asked to no longer participate in the board meetings because I didn't agree with his vision for the company.”
After the interview was published, Hefner, who is Chief Creative Officer of millennial publisher Hop, but has also served as a brand ambassador for Playboy, expanded on his comments with an op-ed for Hop: “I spoke more openly about the company than I ever have in the past. I made a point to comment on the current state of affairs and the incredibly damaging decisions corporate leadership has made over the last year and a half.”
Hefner went on: “Although there is nothing that I would want more than to work with a talented team and re-introduce the brand to my generation, I’ve made a commitment to myself to not work with leadership that puts their self-interest over the best interest of the brand.”