Should Nonprofits Go Back to Taking Off Their Clothes?

This is awkward. 

Nearly a year ago to the day I wrote that cause marketers could learn a thing or two from Playboy's decision to go nude-less. Imagine, Playboy without nude pictures!

It appears that Playboy readers couldn't imagine it because sales slumped over the past year. The decline was so steep that Playboy announced last month that it's returning to its rakish ways. Nude pictures are back in this month's issue.

Last year I told nonprofits to cover up. Is it time to take it off again? Not really. As I explained last year:

"I know you don’t rely on nude pictures in your work. But like Playboy you’ve been doing some things for too long and hurting your success. Here are three things you need to stop doing to ensure that, like the new nude-less Playboy, you never lose your edge."

Playboy has taken a step back. Should I reconsider the advice I gave last year? Let's take a look.

Should You Have a 'Millennial First' Strategy?

Last year I argued that Playboy's audience was looking more like PBS's and covering up models would be good for business. (It worked for  its website where eliminating nudity reduced the average viewer's age from 47 to 30). Nonprofits should follow suit by focusing on younger supporters.

I still believe that Millennials are major influencers, but that doesn't mean we should give up on older generations. After all, when you look at the numbers Baby Boomers are still the largest contributors to causes.

The key here may be segmenting your supporters by generation so you can market to them differently. Instead of leading with a Millennial vanguard, perhaps a multi-pronged approach is needed. Maybe forks are better than knives!

Should You Ignore Your Biggest Asset?

I'm sticking with this one. Playboy's brand is a billion dollar asset, which offsets any loses from the magazine. Nonprofits need to make brand-building a priority. As I wrote last year:

"Nonprofits think they are too busy planning their next walk or gala (aka the nonprofit “magazine”) to focus on the bigger opportunity that would raise more money than all their events combined. Playboy may have been known for its nudity, but the people who are focused on transactional fundraisers instead of building a brand are the real boobs."

The key here is to know what is truly critical to your brand. Obviously, Playboy thinks that nudity is key to its brand. When the magazine announced bringing nudity back they said they were "taking their identity back."

Nudity wasn't working before, will it work now? 

It's a challenge to figure out what to leave on and what to take off! Proceed with caution.

Should You Go Back to Your Old Tricks?

No. Tricks don't work. Playboy may have gone back to nudity, but it's still focused on shedding its fratboy image and becoming an entertainment brand.

Without real social impact, a powerful brand and a compelling story to share, Nonprofits are just turning tricks. Playboy may have gone back to sex but you shouldn't. Old, tired tactics and empty visions just don't cut it anymore.