The news that Playboy is to ditch its nude photography comes at a time when defining the desires of the millennial male has never been more important for brands. Clearly, Playboy is aware that the type of titillation it has delivered in print for over 50 years is now more easily accessible online. But the move is also an acknowledgement that modern masculinity is more sophisticated and fluid than it has ever been: men don't want to be defined by reductive, stereotyped macho tropes.
As we saw with our Marketing to Millennial Men report, millennial men may adopt characteristics from multiple subcultures, and change their views frequently. Nonetheless, there's an opportunity for Playboy to attract the new breed of Entrepreneurial Futurist we identified in the report as an important male tribe. Americus Reed, marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania, recently told Adweek: "These young entrepreneur types are hard-working but also want to have fun. Playboy could insert itself into that cultural narrative as a brand that represents the play-hard side of things."
Conde Nast is obviously asking similar questions to Playboy about engaging millennial men, judging by its recent acquisition of US music blog Pitchfork. Pitchfork's audience skews male – perhaps by as much as 82%, according to analytics firm Quantcast. Music is maybe the only media that unites the disparate tribes of global millennial men; Nielsen data reveals 88% of all US millennial males listen to the radio each week. As American lifestyle blog Flavorwire observed: "Pitchfork isn't formally a men's publication, obviously, and pretty much anyone involved with the site these days would blanch at any such suggestion. But if you were an advertiser targeting 18 to 30-year-old men, where would you spend your cash?"