Why is Playboy giving up nudity?

Playboy kills cliché
playboy attracting younger audience kathy lette intv _00021830

    JUST WATCHED

    Playboy kills cliché

MUST WATCH

Playboy kills cliché 01:38

Story highlights

  • Playboy says the magazine is getting a PG-13 revamp next year
  • Mel Robbins: The move is not about nudity but innovation and how to stay relevant

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Playboy magazine launched in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe on its cover and subsequently grew into one of the world's most recognizable brands thanks to bunny costumes, a founder who never got out of his pajamas, and nude centerfolds.

It was a cornerstone of the "Mad Men" era and ushered in the culture of sex, drugs and rock n' roll. In its heyday, it sold 7 million copies a month. Today's monthly circulation is only 800,000 magazines. Like you, I have memories of hiding in a closet with my best friend, a flashlight and a Playboy magazine. But there's a new generation of content consumption driving major changes in how old-school players approach the game.
Playboy just announced that the magazine is getting a PG-13 revamp next year and will no longer print fully nude images of women.
    Mel Robbins
    This isn't a story about nudity; it's a story about disruption and innovation. Times, tastes and technology have changed everything. Even at 89, Hugh Hefner understands a simple fact: In today's rapidly evolving world you innovate or you become irrelevant. It's the biggest challenge facing businesses around the world.
    It may seem ironic to think that the very nudity that Playboy pioneered has been "overtaken" by the Internet where you are "one click away from every sex act imaginable for free."
    However, that's always how it happens. The thing that made you famous won't keep you relevant in a progressive world.
    Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975, but it was so focused on its film and printing domination, it missed every opportunity in digital. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Blockbuster created a desire to rent and stay in to enjoy movies from the comfort of our homes, and passed on the opportunity to buy Netflix, not once, but three times. It went bankrupt in 2013.
    Every single disruptive business that's emerged in the last five years -- Uber, Airbnb, Twitch.tv --exploits a major business weakness -- the failure of the old guard to innovate in response to changing consumer and customer behavior. These disruptors aren't killing businesses; it's the stodgy, rigid and stubborn companies that are killing themselves.
    Once you understand the disruption that's taken place in the media and publishing world and the power of social networks as a publishing platform, you'll understand that Playboy simply had no choice. Nudity was sinking its Web and magazine business.
    Robin Zucker is the senior vice president of digital marketing at Playboy. She understands the fact that Playboy is a publisher and if you want people to read your content, you better make it Web and work friendly. Under her guidance, Playboy relaunched its website with a "safe for work" strategy in 2014. Everything was PG-13, and there was no nudity at Playboy.com anymore.
    It worked. After relaunch, Playboy said it saw a 258% jump in unique visitors. The average age of its readers went from 47 to just over 30, company executives said, and its Web traffic increased from 4 million to 16 million unique users per month, according to The New York Times.
    Playboy magazine says goodbye to nude photos
    playboy magazine no nudes stelter lklv ctn_00004008

      JUST WATCHED

      Playboy magazine says goodbye to nude photos

    MUST WATCH

    Playboy magazine says goodbye to nude photos 02:02
    There is a reason for that. The No. 1 source of traffic to most websites are social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Facebook is the largest source of news and drives more traffic to media sites than Google. And here's the rub for Playboy -- none of those social networks allow nudity.
    In 1997, my husband and I bought an old farmhouse outside Boston. One night after work we were up in the attic pulling down Sheetrock to renovate the space. Behind the wall we found an absolutely pristine collection of Playboy centerfolds from the late 1960s. We sat on the floor of the attic in the middle of the demo with a shop light and a six pack of beer and flipped through the 30 or so centerfolds.
    Pre-boob jobs and tanning beds -- these women were gorgeous and au natural -- tan lines, ponytails and argyle socks. It was a stark reminder of how much times had changed living in the era of Photoshop, plastic surgery and perfection. Scott Flanders, Playboy's CEO, told The New York Times that the magazine is trying to answer a key question: "If you take nudity out, what's left?"
    The answer is simple -- everything.