Playboy is laying off a sizable portion of its editorial staff less than three months after it closed its iconic print magazine.
Although a spokeswoman for Playboy said when the print magazine shuttered in March after 66 years, as first reported by WWD, that no layoffs were planned “at this time,” the outlet didn’t need too long for plans to change.
A spokeswoman confirmed to WWD that the magazine was enacting layoffs today, but would not specify the number of people being affected. She referred to the move as part of a broader reorganization of the Playboy business “to address challenges caused by the global pandemic as well as to accelerate our work to build direct relationships with consumers through our e-commerce and service offerings.”
But sources tell WWD that at least 25 editorial staffers are expected to lose their jobs with the magazine, which is now a digital only operation. This is thought to be a sizable portion of Playboy’s editorial workforce, as it already operates mostly with freelance workers and has slimmed down its editorial staff repeatedly over the last several years. The outlet no longer has a public masthead.
“Those leaving Playboy today have contributed in innumerable ways and will be greatly missed. We thank them for their dedicated service and are committed to supporting them as they embark on their job searches,” the spokeswoman added. “We are confident in Playboy’s brand, business, and our team, as we continue to push boundaries and create a culture where all people can pursue pleasure.”
She did not immediately comment on whether laid off employees were receiving any severance or continued health benefits.
When Playboy decided to end its run with print after decades, it was one of the first media outlets to cite the coronavirus pandemic as cause. Although media (magazines in particular) has been contending with the rise in digital production and consumer habits for at least a decade, the pandemic has further accelerated existing problems with an advertising dependent business model.
“It’s no surprise that media consumption habits have been changing for some time – and while the stories we produce and the artwork we showcase is enjoyed by millions of people on digital platforms, our content in its printed form reaches the hands of only a fraction of our fans,” Ben Kohn, Playboy Enterprises chief executive officer, said in March.
Playboy had already shifted last year to a quarterly print schedule after making a number of other changes to its editorial output, including reducing nudity and starting to transition its content away from being solely for a male reader and gaze. In March it said it would no longer dub a “Playmate of the year,” something the magazine had done since 1960, when it was led by late founder Hugh Hefner. It also revamped its online presence and social media channels, appealing to a broader audience and building out a video channel and a live events business. All efforts over the last few years to modernize the brand, which had become something of a relic and seen a related effect on its reputation and business.