SBD/February 15, 2017/Media

Kate Upton Gracing Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue's Cover For Third Time In '17

SI last night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” revealed Kate Upton as the cover model of the ’17 Swimsuit issue, the third time she has been on the cover following appearances in ’12 and ’13. Upton will be on three different cover versions for the issue, somewhat mirroring a three-cover plan used for last year’s Swimsuit issue with Ronda Rousey, Ashley Graham and Hailey Clauson. The ’17 Swimsuit issue, released today, is 174 pages, down sharply from 212 last year and 224 in ’15. But SI continues to shift the economic model of the Swimsuit issue more toward experiential and digital platforms, and this year’s release includes the company’s largest social media-based push through deals with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Giphy that call for the creation of exclusive videos and content. SI has also turned its Swimsuit-release festival into a ticketed event, with the “Vibes” food and culture festival slated for Friday and Saturday at Houston’s Post HTX. “We want events to not just supplement the content, but be premium content themselves, where people are consuming what is happening there,” SI Group Editorial Dir Chris Stone said. “The events and the content are really one and the same, and it’s a very important part of the overall puzzle.” Official marketing partners for this year’s issue include Lexus, Smirnoff, DirecTV Now, Edge and Visit Houston (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? Upton was on Kimmel's show last night, and he asked her, “When did they tell you that you're going to be on the cover of the magazine, because I know this is a very secretive thing.” Upton: “They're very difficult to read. They just completely ghost you. They just don't ever talk to you at all. ... They finally gave me a call yesterday.” Kimmel noted Upton has not seen the cover, so he unveiled it. What appeared was a shot of Upton buried up to her neck in sand, with Kimmel asking whether that was the “one you figured they would use.” Upton: “Very sexy.” Kimmel then unveiled two more “covers,” including one featuring Upton and show sidekick Guillermo until finally going live to N.Y., where one of the three real covers was revealed on the side of the Empire State Building. Kimmel asked, “Is that really a swimsuit that you're wearing? It seems just like a hammock they got torn to bits.” Upton: “I'm pretty sure that's just a rope” (“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” ABC, 2/14).

ONE OF A KIND: Stone said of the Swimsuit issue's longevity, "You couldn’t invent the Swimsuit Issue from scratch in 2017 and expect it to grow. It’s become something unmistakable and singular in the industry over the last five-plus decades." He added, "What’s enabled the Swimsuit franchise to grow is that it’s not just confined to a magazine anymore, or just putting a bunch of pictures up online. In the last year, we’ve had a big emphasis on live events and creating new content experiences for people." Stone: "It’s not just a bunch of swimsuit models showing up at a locale and parading across a stage; we integrate it into a larger cultural experience" (ADWEEK.com, 2/14).

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