Naked women return to Playboy

Magazine folds on self-imposed ban that lasted a single year...

Playboy will print photos of naked ladies once again, as Hugh Hefner's son admits the decision to drop nudity was a mistake.

Cooper Hefner, the company's chief creative officer and the man poised to fullly take over the reins from The Hef when the famous Playboy founder retires, tweeted the announcement on Monday with the words:

"I'll be the first to admit that the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake.

"Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn't a problem. Today we're taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are." 

The first step to taking its "identity back" came with the unveiling of the March 2017 cover, which features a strategically topless Elizabeth Elam and the words 'Naked Is Normal'... 

Other throwback features are set to return, including Party Jokes and the Playboy Philosophy column that ran in the 1960s.

Last year, former chief executive Scott Flanders explained that the decision to abandon nudity – along with its “Entertainment for Men” tag and racy back page ads – was made due to the fact that the existence of internet pornography rendered it "passé".

Post-redesign, it proudly declared that its first clothed cover star, Dree Hemingway, was "unretouched" as it incorporated grainy photos and Instagram-style selfies to appeal to a younger, "hipper" audience. 

Cooper Hefner arrives at the Playboy Club relaunch in London, 2011. Picture by Suzan Moore EMPICS Entertainment

The company had already seen some success with this less provocative approach, after playboy.com relaunched as a “safe for work” website and enjoyed a traffic increase of 400%, while the average age of visitors went from 47 to 30.

Indeed, the move seemed to be paying off when it came to general sales of the magazine.

Last September, it was revealed that sales had increased almost 30% (from 36,762 to 47,203) in the first six months of the year.

However, paid subscriptions took a 23% tumble and they account for the vast majority of copies shifted – only 10% of readers pick up theirs from newsagents. 

Flanders left the company last summer, as talk intensified that it would be sold and following criticism from the younger Hefner regarding the direction in which the CEO had taken the business.

In an interview with Business Insider this time last year, Cooper said:

"I was in the boardroom when the conversation was being had about whether we should go non-nude with the magazine as well as the company, and I didn't agree with the decision because I felt as though millennial and Gen-Y didn't view nudity as the issue.

"The issue was the way in which the nudity and the issue was portrayed."

He had also tweeted that he felt the changes were "disrespectful" to his father's legacy.

That July, Cooper Hefner rejoined the Playboy fold as chief creative officer.