The lovely Miss Upton and her fellow swimsuit models were seemingly everywhere in recent weeks. In addition to TV, print and online news coverage, the magazine and the featured models reached consumers through Facebook (FB), Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google's (GOOG) Google+ and YouTube, and mobile apps for Apple (AAPL) and Google Android devices. The Travel Channel aired a special on the making of the swimsuit issue.
Time Inc., the magazine unit of media giant Time Warner (TWX), left no stone unturned in getting publicity, because only people living under a rock could have avoided hearing about this year's SI swimsuit issue. The print, online and mobile versions of the special edition, now in its 50th year, launched on Feb. 12. Print copies will be on newsstands for three months.
"We want to use technology to help us push Swimsuit wherever we can," Mark Ford, executive vice president and sports group president at Time, told IBD.
To reach fans, SI used all the major social media platforms. It held Google+ hangouts, interacted with readers on Twitter and Facebook, posted photos to Instagram and Pinterest, and uploaded videos to YouTube, including models doing the latest Internet meme "the Harlem Shake." Time executives also praised Upton for being a one-woman marketing machine, who brings her own loyal social media followers.
"Like every outlet, we're trying to use as many social media buttons as we can," Paul Fichtenbaum, editor of Time's sports group, told IBD. "We're everywhere we need to be."
By all accounts, the launch was a big success for Time. The company got more than 3 billion media impressions from its various launch events. As of Wednesday, page views at SI's swimsuit Web content were up 58% year over year. And tablet issue sales were up 68% across Apple's iPad, Barnes and Noble's (BKS) Nook, Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire and other Google Android slates. The tablet app has all of the magazine's content, plus over 75 videos and 360-degree images of models wearing only body paint.
This year's SI swimsuit edition features swimsuit models on all seven continents, including 20-year-old Upton freezing her tooshie off in a bikini in Antarctica. The 220-page magazine includes 99 pages of ads, its most advertising since 2008. Overall advertising revenue across print, digital and events for the swimsuit issue was up 8% year over year, the fourth consecutive year of growth.