Playboy CEO: There's too much interest in porn

Playboy CEO on no nudity: We didn't know how Hef would react
Playboy CEO on no nudity: We didn't know how Hef would react

Playboy practically invented the American porn industry.

But last month, the iconic magazine dropped a bombshell.

Beginning with the March issue, Playboy is dropping full nudity from its magazine.

Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders told CNN Money that the decision was made partly because of a proliferation of porn on the Internet.

"After 62 years, Playboy is putting its clothes back on," he said. "It served its purpose. When Hefner launched the magazine in 1953 nudity was provocative, and today it's passe."

Flanders says there's too much interest in porn.

"My personal view is that unfortunately availability of porn in some cases has substituted for intimacy in personal relationships," Flanders says. "And that is unfortunate and Playboy would like to be a bridge in the gap between sex, and understanding of sex between men and women."

Dropping nudity from Playboy wasn't a decision made overnight.

Flanders says internal discussions began four years ago to mainstream the brand.

In August 2014, Playboy.com was launched as a "safe for work" site, and Flanders says the audience has grown 400% since then. That success sparked discussions about embracing the same strategy for print.

By itself, the magazine doesn't make money. And monthly circulation numbers have dropped to 800,000 from more than 5 million at the height of its popularity.

But Flanders says the new policy on photos will open the magazine to more advertising.

"We've had brands talking to us and wanting to be in the March issue that haven't advertised in Playboy for more than 20 years," he said.

Related: Playboy & Hugh Hefner in pictures

As for Hugh Hefner, Flanders says the 89-year-old founder still makes creative decisions at the magazine.

"We didn't know how he would react for sure, and what we've seen is that he got it quickly," he said. "This is a second opportunity for a first impression for our brand, and to make the brand more relevant to millennial males which was always his target audience."

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