Playboy Exposed: Here's How the Iconic Magazine Marketed Women in the United States for 62 Years

Playboy Exposed: Here's How the Iconic Magazine Marketed Women in the United States for 62 Years

Organisation: Univision News (United States)

Publication Date: 04/15/2016


Size of team/newsroom:large


The project came about after announcing PlayBoy would stop publishing naked women on their covers. From the start, the goal of this project was to establish the female prototype that Playboy sold in its magazine covers throughout the past 62 years. Univision’s Data Visualization Unit reviewed the 735 issues published by the magazine since 1953. The name, date of birth, age, hair color, body measurements, nationality and occupation of each front-page model was extracted from Playboy magazines and Other sources included model agency websites and official pages for some of the women. Interviews and news articles were also used, some of them dating back to the 1960s. In all, 715 women posed for a Playboy cover. Covers with no female figure were excluded from the methodology. For some of the models, it was not possible to obtain some of the necessary information, especially for those women who graced the cover during the publication’s first 20 years. This lack of data was corrected by a statistician through a time series analysis, which accounted for outliers and the seasonality that could alter the conclusion. Missing data was imputed to determine the value of empty cells, with the goal of generating a more reliable outcome. This exercise was done with the R software for statistical data analysis. The corrected database was used to identify the median values of all physical attributes of the women who posed on Playboy covers throughout the decades, and helped establish the prototypical Playboy woman presented in the interactive visual. Univision’s Data Visualization Unit Database and analysis: Amaya Verde, Tamoa Calzadilla, Ronny Rojas & Michael Herradora Graphics: Mariano Zafra, Luis Melgar & Amaya Verde Text: Ronny Rojas, Tamoa Calzadilla & Jossette Rivera Project manager: Mariano Zafra Opening illustration: Zamir Bermeo Digital product: Andrés Barajas Front-end development: Adriana Bermudez Back-end development: Nivelics

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

The project informs the audience about how the construction of the idea of beauty has been influenced by media publications such as Playboy. It is also gives very concrete evidence on the lack of representation of women of color and minorities. The graphic makes the information easy to understand and entertaining while offering a thorough analysis of the data including the analysis of Sara Gervais an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as well as Director of the Subtle Prejudice Lab and a specialist in the objectification of women, prejudice and sexual harassment.

Technologies used for this project:

Once the data was obtained, organized, and analyzed with data visualization programs such as Excel and Tableau , we took half of the data obtained for decades and patterns. The most interesting data were age, sex and nationality. With the data, the mean and visual analysis in Excel and Tableau, we developed the first sketches of the graphics (in pencil and watercolor) and decided which ones would be static and which ones would be interactive ones. We developed the static graphics in Adobe Illustrator and the main interactive graphics with HTML5 (HTML CSS Javascript). All graphics were designed and developed for mobile devices. We also developed extended versions for computer screens.
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