Playboy enters non-nude era: Sexy but 'safe for work'

A peek at Playboy's new non-nude magazine

Playboy entered a new era Thursday with its first issue without fully nude photos.

But that is only one of the several changes made at the iconic magazine as it aims to reach a "new generation of readers."

Along with nudity, Playboy is also doing away with a pair of long-running features: the cartoon and its monthly list of party jokes. The centerfold will be expanded to feature more than just each month's Playmate. And Playboy will now be printed with a better-quality paper befitting a high-end style magazine.

Other than that, executives insist, it's the same old Playboy.

"There's a lot that we're keeping of the DNA of the magazine, but there's a lot we're evolving, too," the magazine's chief content officer Cory Jones told CNNMoney's Alison Kosik.

Related: Pamela Anderson graces cover of Playboy's final nude issue

The revamped Playboy is retaining some of the magazine's best-known elements. The monthly feature interview and fiction section, for example, aren't going anywhere.

And there will still be plenty of skin. Jones said that while there will be no more "full frontal nudity," the photos will still be provocative.

"It's going to be sexy, but it's going to be safe for work," he said.

Playboy's March issue, which hit newsstands on Thursday, combines some of those familiar components with the magazine's explicit goal to draw a younger audience.

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Social media star Sarah McDaniel graces the issue's cover, which is made to look like a Snapchat message. This month's "20 Questions" features the stars of "Broad City," the Comedy Central series that is a favorite of twentysomethings.

But in order to reach the new, Playboy decided that it had to part with some of the old. That meant getting rid of the cartoon and the joke list.

Jones said the jokes simply "wouldn't resonate with a younger audience."

"I don't know if you've heard of dad jokes?" he said. "These were almost grandpa jokes, a little bit."

Related: Penthouse denies reports print magazine is shutting down

Convincing Playboy founder and editor-in-chief Hugh Hefner to get rid of the cartoon proved to be a tough sell. A former cartoonist in his own right, Hefner was initially reluctant before he was ultimately won over.

Hefner apparently did not resist the decision to end nude photography, however.

Scott Flanders, the magazine's CEO, told Kosik he thought it would be tougher to get Hefner on board.

"His comment was, 'This is what I always intended Playboy Magazine to look like,'" Flanders said of Hefner.

Related: Playboy Mansion listed for $200 million, Hef included

Playboy's move away from nude photos was partly motivated by the ubiquity of pornography on the internet. But it was also driven by a desire to position itself against new competition.

Flanders said he sees the overhauled magazine in the same category as Vanity Fair, not publications like GQ or Maxim.

He also said that the move has opened up Playboy to new advertisers and distribution channels.

"You're going to see a Detroit auto manufacturer in Playboy magazine for the first time in 20 years," he said.

Playboy confirmed to CNNMoney that the automaker is Dodge.

Not everyone was pleased with the change. Flanders said Playboy was hit with a couple hundred cancellations after announcing its new policy on nude photos.

Cancellations have since returned to previous levels, and Flanders said he's "optimistic that we'll hold on to most of our fans."

"I think in today's world it's sort of unrealistic to think that anyone's subscribing to Playboy magazine because they can't find nudity anywhere else," he said. "That would be a rather un-creative subscriber."

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