The idea behind any advertisement is to present a product or service that arouses interest and effects a sale. That said, does anyone think Sports Illustrated is trying to sell swimsuits via its annual swimsuit issue?
Now on newsstands, the 2012 edition issue naturally gets major promotional display on cnnsi.com, starting with a huge homepage banner that features 19-year-old cover model Kate Upton. We guarantee that her suit, which some have criticized as being more rumor than fact, is not what draws the eye.
As the Las Vegas Weekly put it, "Her assets are ample enough to create the rarely seen side-boob/under-boob combo."
Cheryl Tiegs, featured on the SI swimsuit cover more than once during her heyday as a supermodel, agreed with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush's view that Upton’s photograph is “two strands away from Playboy.”
Before landing the coveted cover spot, which resulted in a contract with International Management Group, Upton was best known for appearing on YouTube doing the "Dougie." If you are wondering, "What's the Dougie?" click here.
The magazine edition, as opposed to the Internet version, runs to nearly 200 glossy pages, quadruple the number SI normally devotes to its usual round up of basketball, hockey and spring training stories this time of year. In print and online, 18 models are featured in a veritable pornucopia of poses in exotic locales such as Australia, the Gulf Coast, Panama, Zambia and the Seychelles.
The magazine pales next to the glut of material in the online version. On the drop-down menu, clicking on the "Models" tab brings up thumbnail photos of all 18 models. Click on a photo and you'll find a gallery of 50 additional photos, many of them taken by Walter Iooss Jr., who might have the best job in the world.
For each model, SI has embedded a video, in which the model describes her experience as a celebrity and what it means to her. Upton does this while writhing on a beach and fondling herself. Of the many things Upton says, this one struck us: "I am proud to be part of this American tradition."
Sports Illustrated published its first swimsuit issue in 1964. Dozens of supermodels appeared in subsequent issues, including Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova, Elle Macpherson (the record-holder at five covers), Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Romijn, Petra Nemcova, Valeria Mazza, Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, and Marisa Miller. Other models who didn't make a cover included Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Niki Taylor, Angie Everhart, and Naomi Campbell.
A number of athletes have appeared in the swimsuit issue, although not on the cover, including Steffi Graf (1997), Serena Williams, Lauren Jackson (2005) and Danica Patrick (2008). A few other factoids:
- The 2005 issue carried a record $35 million worth of advertisements.
- The 2006 issue was the first made available for handheld devices.
- In 2007, the issue became available in China.