Sports Illustrated Transforms Swimsuits into Sales
Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, which sells more than a million newsstand copies each February, has become more than just a cultural icon–it has become the center of a robust event marketing initiative for Time Inc.
Activities are centered on Launch Week, an event romp that kicks off with a press bash in New York City and then a chartered plane ride for sponsors and a few lucky consumers to Las Vegas, where a 48-hour whirlwind of events ensues and digital content from the program extends the experience into a year-round SI franchise.
For one recent Launch Week, SI signed the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority as presenting sponsor and converted HTC, Nissan and SoBe from print advertisers into sponsors, enabling the brands to activate their ties to the special issue all year long. All told the Swimsuit platform that year encompassed 10 primary consumer and trade events and delivered 2.6 billion impressions and 6,700 retail activations.
The real fun began in February at a launch party for media and VIP guests at NYC’s Pranna Restaurant, where the models were formally presented for the first time. The action continued later that evening when 160 A-list clients, sponsors and models boarded a private plane to Las Vegas. The next day, at Sin City’s LAX Nightclub, SI showed off its “Swimsuit on Location” brand immersion, recreating the issue’s shoot locations, such as the Philippines and Fiji, with build-outs, exotic imagery and food and beverage selections. Touchscreens and LED technology enabled consumers to control additional content, and guests could earn a parting gift by collecting stamps on a “passport” at each location. Swimsuit models posed for photos, which guests could retrieve online within 24 hours.
A Club SI experience the following night at the Hard Rock’s Vanity nightclub featured a main-stage reveal of the models and a performance by Grammy Award winner Ne-Yo. The party scene wrapped at Pure nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, an invitation-only affair. There was also a Swimsuit Lunch at STK restaurant, and appearances by the models at other Vegas eateries. As part of its partnership, the Las Vegas CVA even renamed a portion of the Strip “Swimsuit Boulevard” in honor of the events.