The full media court press that is the Valentine’s Day drop of Sports Illustrated’s legendary swimsuit issue has had mobile extensions for years. Calendar apps, model apps, enhanced magazine editions -- all have been in the portfolio of digital releases.
Part of the franchise’s larger marketing role is to demonstrate the sports brand’s mastery of cutting-edge media. And this year is no different. Bikini and bodypaint lovers will see their favorite models in apps across iOS and Android devices this week.
This year SI introduces a new way to leverage mobile interactions with print. A dedicated Swimsuit Viewer app for iOS and Android recognizes models in the magazine and serves up additional content. Employing Digimarc watermarking technology, the app uses the device camera on select pages to trigger 19 relevant videos in the app.
The effort was done in partnership with mobile marketing company Nellymoser and sponsored by DirecTV. The companies say this is the first time that a top 100 magazine has used watermarking technology to promote video content.
While 2D codes in magazines are not new by any means, the implementation here denotes two trends in mobile code use in magazines. First, while the use of QR codes and other coding systems has become rife in magazines, both magazine designers and many advertisers recoil at the intrusion of these codes in otherwise sculpted visual design. Watermarking hides the visual cues and lets the underlying artwork fill a page unimpeded. And unlike other uses of 2D codes, which require some third-party scanning app, the SI project maintains a branded experience.
The SI branded app gives the publisher the opportunity to create a scanning environment that is its own and can even be sold to a sponsor like DirecTV.
And this being the wall-to-wall affair the Swimsuit issue tends to be, the Viewer is not the only app to include models. The freemium SI Swimsuit 2012 strips the franchise down to its g-string essentials -- photographs.
In this year’s version of the app, however, developers have included a 360-degree view of the three bodypainted athletes that is available only in the smartphone versions of the franchise. The Swimsuit app employs in-app purchases to get beyond image sampling. A $6.99 upgrade (free for SI subscribers) unlocks the full trove of content.