As Sports Illustrated prepares to launch its iconic swimsuit edition on the 50th anniversary of the issue, it faces a rapidly changing media culture.
The issue continues to be wildly popular, but SI must always show the ability to cater to the times if it wants to stay relevant, and it is most definitely relevant.
Forbes' Jeff Bercovici reported that sales for this celebrated issue "typically" exceed 1 million copies.
Also, in 2010, CNBC reported that a whopping seven percent of Sports Illustrated's advertising revenue stems from this one issue.
Honestly, it is impressive that Sports Illustrated has been able to maintain the popularity of the Swimsuit Issue as long as it has.
I don't know if you've noticed, but there are vastly more and far-different means to get information than there was 50 years ago.
People have begun to flock to the Internet to get their information, and it quickly has made print, slow and archaic.
Now, the Swimsuit Issue is not centered around information that is time sensitive. However, as you may have also noticed, it relies pretty heavily on sex appeal and there is also a great deal of sex appeal to be found for free on the Internet.
Here are a few ideas that would help ensure SI can maintain the popularity of its Swimsuit Issue:
Exclusive Online Content
It's not like the Internet is going anywhere. So SI needs to make the web an integral part of its Swimsuit Issue.
In the magazine, after groups of photos, there could be a blurb about seeing more photos or footage from the shoot at the SI website.
Of course, the website itself—while boasting of this exclusive content—would generate traffic on its own. So, naturally, the website can also tell people to pick up the magazine to see the best photos from the shoot.
Reality TV Show Competition
How has this not already happened?
Sports Illustrated should open up one page in this iconic issue to a modeling newcomer who is selected from a reality TV show competition.
To earn a spot these models would have to eat really disgusting things, live in one room, display strong cooking skills and a beautiful singing voice. Or they could do something more like America's Next Top Model.
Keep Building the Hype
SI has turned the annual debut of the magazine into an event. It has almost become an independent hype machine.
In the days leading up to the release the current issue, Twitter has been buzzing, the models were on Late Night with David Letterman and the leaked information that Kate Upton was on the cover spread like wildfire.
The folks at SI can't let this lead to laziness. They have to keep that hype machine rolling.
Fifty years is an impressive run for a magazine, let alone a specific issue of that magazine, and there is no reason that the Swimsuit Issue can't be around for 50 more.
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