Sports Illustrated is going all-out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its all-important Swimsuit issue. The issue, which hits newsstands today, features not one but thee cover models—Chrissy Teigen, Lily Aldridge and Nina Agdal—on its cover, and with a total of 260 editorial and ad pages, is SI’s biggest since its blockbuster 25th anniversary issue in 1989.
The issue contains 112 ad pages, a 14 percent increase over last year’s 98, and a record number of advertisers and other sponsors. Overall ad revenue is up across every platform, including print, digital and TV.
Advertisers from more than 20 categories are represented (35 percent of which are new) and are the most numerous in Swimsuit history, with the most growth coming from men’s fragrance, luxury, auto, and both men’s and women’s fashion. SI even squeezed in some ad space on its spine (Lexus is the sponsor), a first for a Time Inc. title.
The emphasis on female readers has been growing more evident in recent years. This year, consumers will find brands like Barbie, which is launching an SI Swim doll, and Target, which is promoting its new Black and Gold swimwear line in celebration of the issue’s 50th anniversary, specifically targeting women with custom ad campaigns. (A total of 15 brands created custom creative for the issue.) “Brands like Target are taking advantage of the fact that, historically, when a manufacturer’s swimsuits are featured in the magazine, they sell out,” publisher Brendan Ripp said.
As always, plenty of brands have also signed up to sponsor events around the issue’s launch. On Monday night, Mattel will host a “Barbie Legends Night” in New York to celebrate the issue’s legendary models, followed by another party on Tuesday night to mark the magazine’s official launch. On Wednesday, the action will move to Miami, where SI will team up with sister title People for a live red carpet special that will air People.com and SI.com. Finally, on Thursday, SI Swim partners with another Time Inc. title, Food & Wine, and the SoBe Wine and Food Festival for it first big consumer event, a volleyball tournament. SI.com’s daily live talk show, SI Now, will be airing from Miami both days.
Also on Tuesday, Sports Illustrated will unveil a new SI.com/Swimsuit website and Swimsuit Issue app including videos, photo slideshows and access to content from previous years. Combined, they contain more than four hours of video content.
For Ripp, who joined the magazine just last month, it’s been a steep learning curve. “This brand is firing on all cylinders during the Super Bowl and Swim, and to be able to start during two of the most important revenue-generating and consumer-facing franchises we have has been exciting,” he told Adweek. “It’s a pinch-yourself moment, if you will.”