VAIL, CO -- Playboy is gearing up to take its content roster to advertisers this coming Digital Content NewFronts, with a brand that has now been virtually purged of the naked flesh that was once its stock in trade.
The publisher relaunched playboy.com to remove nudes, and the magazine followed suit in the fall in what was a big move for the company.
Now Playboy chief content officer Cory Jones is busy assembling video and other programming to pitch to ad buyers in the annual sales showcase for digital media. Could cleaning up its act make Playboy a bigger draw for household brand marketers?
"In the 60s and 70s, nudity was provocative... it pushed the boundaries of America," he tells Beet.TV. "But with the advent of the internet, nudity was ubiquitous, it wasn't as provocative. (The magazine) was up on the top shelf in a poly bag, we were up against magazines we didn't feel were our competitors.
"If we took the nudity out, we're going to be down next to the Vanity Fairs, New Yorkers, GQs and Esquires - the magazines we consider our true competitors."
Abandoning what seemed like its core content hasn't hurt Playboy online - playboy.com web traffic rocketed from four million uniques to 20 million after the no-nudes switch to safe-for-work content, the company previously said.
"Being out of the poly bag, it's a second chance at a first impression," Jones continues. "We cover things like gaming a lot more, our audience loves it."
And the new status has given Playboy ample room to embrace social network audiences, building a 16 million-follower based on Facebook as well as touching users of the other main platforms, by producing some 25 videos every week.
"When we upload directly there (to Facebook), we get crazy numbers, 20 million-plus views," Jones says. "Video is permeating every aspect of the brand. We're ingraining that in the whole Playboy culture.
"We're still sexy, we still have women, it's still part of who we are - it's just presented differently. It's sexier when you leave a little bit of mystery."
This interview took place at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado, in March.
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