Last February I wrote that I thought SPORTS ILLUSTRATED would eventually push its swimsuit models into posing nude in order to keep publishing’s largest selling annual mag copy, the vaunted SI Swimsuit Issue, on top of the circulation heap.
Perhaps someone at ESPN THE MAGAZINE was listening.
Yesterday I posted a graphic comparing ad revenue between SI and ESPN The Magazine. While SI more than doubled ESPN’s ad take, I wondered if the swimsuit issue was subtracted, would SI still be ahead of ESPN’s print offering?
(One of SbB’s suggestions for ESPN The Mag “Nude” Issue - Leryn Franco)
Apparently ESPN also took notice of that recently as I’ve since learned from two Bristol-based sources that in October ESPN The Magazine will roll out a “nude issue”, with the edition featuring SI Swimsuit Issue favorite Danica Patrick.
The issue will feature naked athletes, not swimsuit models, in non-explicit poses, and if received well will become an annually recurring feature.
(Danica’s only previous topless shoot - AWKWARD)
If you think something like that could turn off advertisers or readers, you would be wrong. Just look at is the wild success of SI’s swimsuit franchise, which features see-through swimsuits, thongs, implied nudity and bodypainted nude models. When you’re a venerable brand like SI or ESPN, you can break all the rules when it comes to what blue chip advertisers will associate with.
(Another suggestion from SbB for ESPN The Mag’s Nudes: Natalie Gulbis)
The move by ESPN clearly is designed to one-up its competitor and create buzz that will lead to more mag sales and ad revenue. Obviously ESPN isn’t trying to out-sex SI, that’s pretty much impossible. But if the initial edition has the right models and presentation, it will easily outsell all other ESPN The Mag issues every year and generate millions in newsstand sales and ad revenue.
(Will ESPN The Mag’s Nude Issue top this? Apples and Oranges
I hope to have more details forthcoming on who some of the other models will be, and what the nature of the photography will entail. Needless to say, I’m intrigued and looking forward to seeing what ESPN comes up with.
(Don’t even THINK about it, Skipper)
And yes, your mind can run a little wild on the concept. (MY EYES!!! *shakes fist*)