SBD/February 12, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

High Water Mark: Brands Featured In SI Swimsuit Issue Anticipate Spike In Sales

Upton's SI cover is featured on a billboard outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in N.Y.
SI Swimsuit issue cover model Kate Upton and "the brands of her garments will benefit from a bundle of attention," as being featured in the Swimsuit issue is "a win for the models and those who manufacture their apparel," according to Darren Heitner of FORBES.com. Step UP Management Founder Keith Bielory, who serves as a consultant for online swimwear boutique KikiSoleil.com, said, "A lot of foreign brands are looking for ways to infiltrate the U.S. market and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is a great way to break in." Heitner noted KikiSoleil.com saw "a 10-fold bump in visits and sales after it made the SI Swimsuit issue last year with the brand, diNeila Brazil." Being featured in the Swimsuit issue also "affects certain large retailers who are given editorial credits from brands that make the cut." Bielory: "In years past, if you received an editorial credit, you would only see that bump in traffic when the issue was still on newsstands. Now, Sports Illustrated is giving retailers editorial credits online as well, which will have visibility for an entire year" (FORBES.com, 2/10). CNBC’s Courtney Reagan reported a Target-branded swimsuit, Xhilaration, was picked for model Jessica Perez to wear in the issue.  Reagan: “This is the kind of free marketing a retailer can really only dream of. While Target didn’t pay to be chosen for the wardrobe, it has invested in the swimsuit edition. Target is the exclusive advertiser for a ‘mini-zine.’ It’s called ‘Secrets of Swimsuit,’ an insert with six pages of SI content and six pages of Target advertising, a style guide, with hair and make-up tips.” Target is also sponsoring the SI digital videos (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 2/12).

GOING BACK TO BACK
: Upton is making her second consecutive appearance on the cover, but she said she was “very surprised by the news” that her photo shoot was in Antarctica. NBC's Matt Lauer joked, “There’s a reason they don’t shoot men’s swimsuit issues in the Antarctic.” Upton said, “It was freezing! I’m from Florida, so it wasn’t great for me. Obviously, the pictures now (are) incredible. I can’t believe we were all able to accomplish that.” She added she was “losing hearing and eyesight because my body was shutting down working so hard to keep me warm.” Upton said it means a lot being on back-to-back covers because the Swimsuit issue “is such a franchise, they bring such power" ("Today," NBC, 2/12). SI.com Managing Editor Matt Bean said the shots of Upton "are absolutely stunning, and that’s what drives this decision” of putting her on the cover again. Bean: “We really took a gamble with this shoot down in Antarctica because we really didn’t know what we were going to get. We’ve never tried something of this magnitude.” HLN’s A.J. Hammer said the cover photo is an “amazing picture, so I kind of understand pretty easily why you guys chose it” ("Showbiz Tonight," HLN, 2/11).

MAKING LEMONADE OUT OF LEMONS: Last night’s edition of CBS’ “Late Show” should have included the grand reveal of the Swimsuit issue cover, as the show and host David Letterman have had an exclusive deal with SI for six years to be the first outlet to show the magazine. But the cover was leaked Friday afternoon on the blog Fashion Copious. Letterman noted the cover typically is a “very well-kept, highly guarded secret until the night that it’s unveiled on our show, and it’s a huge, huge media event.” Letterman added, “Hackers, I believe it was Chinese hackers, or am I thinking of Chinese checkers? I’m so confused. They sneak in and they got the advanced copy of the Sports Illustrated and they put it all across the Internet, and as a result everybody has seen it now, so there goes our surprise. Thanks a lot. I do and do and do for you kids, and this is the thanks I get?” However, 10 models from the magazine were present to give last night's Top Ten list. Letterman said, “Normally, they would all be here and they would not know which one of them had been selected as the cover, but thanks to the Chinese hackers everybody knows.” Several of the models replied, “It’s still fun.” Letterman asked, “And you got a chance to enjoy the free hot buffet backstage?” After the models read the Top Ten list, a large billboard of the magazine cover was revealed outside the Ed Sullivan Theater (“Late Show,” CBS, 2/11).
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