The first issue of the brand spanking (sorry) new March Playboy is here and it’s cooler than we anticipated. After 63 years, Playboy’s redesign has been much speculated over, after the brand was increasingly coming under fire for its antiquated attitude towards women, and distasteful branding matched with plummeting sales. In a bid to regain its lost street-cred, the millennial friendly cover features a natural-looking and notably sort-of-dressed Sarah McDaniel. The image, shot-selfie style, is an homage to Snapchat and the caption reads ‘heyyy ;)’ imitating a come-hither ‘sext’. It’s a clear attempt to reach the younger Instagram generation that has thus far eluded the brand. McDaniel, who herself is an Instagram starlet, explained the cover’s concept: “The idea was to look at me from a boyfriend’s perspective.” According to the New York Times, who have received an early-bird copy of the magazine, other changes have been made to the magazine’s aesthetic since shedding its NC-17-rated fare. From its inception in 1953, the centrefold has served as its raison d’etre. From Marilyn Monroe, to Betty Page, via Mariah Carey and Drew Barrymore, its iconic nude centrefold has defined the publication. For the March issue, Dree Hemingway, the great-granddaughter of Ernest, poses for renowned fashion photographer Angelo Pennetta as a rather bashful Eve in the Garden of Eden. Dree, and all the other women shot for the issue, have been un-retouched, a bold step for a publication renowned for its glossy, hyper-real finish. According to the New York Times, gone too are the bawdy advert pages at the back of the magazine and in their place, lots of highly curated, modern white space.
The referencing of Snapchat on the cover (with an estimated 45% of the app's users aged 18 to 24), and having a model whose following derives from another app, squarely places Playboy’s sights on Generation Y. The magazine includes lengthier think pieces including an essay by Norwegian memoirist Karl Ove Knausgaard and an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. The next lot of sales statistics will reveal whether this rebranding exercise is successful or not. But at least teenage boys might have a cat in hell's chance of passing their purchase off as an important piece of cultural memorabilia rather than something to read on the loo. Kind of.