With the Feb. 10 publication of its 2009 Swimsuit Edition, Sports Illustrated is expanding into the realm of event or "experiential" marketing. The first event is a Feb. 12 flight from
New York to Las Vegas with the magazine's 19 swimsuit models, corporate sponsors, clients and SI leaders.
President Mark Ford defines the new marketing focus as branded
entertainment. "We had a business that was really magazine-centric. This is another big step for our brand to expand our footprint," across additional media platforms, he says. For future efforts,
the mag will outsource most of its experiential planning to marketing agency Velocity.
The swimsuit model flight is being undertaken in partnership with Southwest Airlines. The airline will use one of its Boeing 737s, which will be wrapped with large images of a swimsuit model -- an attention-grabbing stunt that will continue for 60 days after the Vegas flight, as the plane flies around the U.S.