Trying to compete with that swimsuit issue


Since the dawn of time, man has relished the very concept of anticipation. Be it the scintillating aroma of a brontosaurus cooking over a cave fire, fresh water pouring its first cleansing drops into town from an aquaduct or opening the first paycheck from one’s first job, it’s the thrill of knowing something is on its way that can cause as much excitement as the actual event.

For instance, the swimsuit issue that Sports Illustrated publishes every year fills the anticipation quota fairly well for men these days.

Now, there’s no arguing that some hate it. I have friends who will call Sports Illustrated and have them not deliver the issue because they have young kids or they get upset that their favorite sports magazine is hijacked that week by girls in body paint and bikinis, when they’d rather be reading about Jeremy Lin or Tim Tebow. But there are other guys I know who set up a small tent near their mailbox the night before the issue is supposed to be delivered and giggle like a 7-year-old on Christmas Eve.

Admittedly, those guys frighten me a little (I’m looking at you, Bill Hoban). However, as evidenced by the unveiling of this year’s cover girl on David Letterman’s show, and all the press coverage that followed, the swimsuit issue is still very much anticipated by many men across this nation.

I was reading my Twitter feed the other day when I came across this little nugget from Darren Rovell, the sports business reporter for CNBC: “Full page color ad in Sports Illustrated costs $392,800. For the Swimsuit, ad costs $12,500 more.”

I’ll just let you have a second with that.

Back? Welcome.

By my somewhat-shabby math, that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 times more expensive than buying an ad in the Coastal Point, and you don’t get to see my photo or random pictures of herons in Sports Illustrated. Hmmm. Perhaps if we removed my photo from the paper, we could charge $392,800 for an ad in our paper. I’ve always thought that thing does nothing but bring us down and ...

But I digress.

I decided to approach our publisher, Susan Lyons, with the idea that we charge a premium fee for select issues of the Coastal Point. Maybe not to the tune of $12,500, but a comparable increase for those issues we know will be picked up in droves. Susan is great about listening to new ideas for the paper, but I also know that you better come to her prepared, or find yourself walking out her office with your dignity in a very stylish handbag.

To that end, I started thinking about those one or two issues a year when we could implement a premium charge. Of course, July 4th, Memorial Day and Labor Day jumped to mind, but that thought went out the window quickly. The small businesses here need to announce their presence on those holiday issues, and we can’t leave anybody out on those important weeks.

I flirted with the idea of the staff doing our own swimsuit issue, but that soured fairly quickly when the mental imagery of our resident Eskimo, Shaun Lambert, showing up for the photo shoot in a seal-skin thong popped into my head. I mean, it’s bad enough that he does that on Thursdays, but this is something we want to be able to advertise proudly.

You know, I’m starting to believe that a premium charge just isn’t a good idea for us here in Pointville, U.S.A. It’s a rough economy out there for all of us, and sticking it to our faithful customers just doesn’t seem like a good idea. My wheels were turning as I began thinking of other ideas to increase revenue — autographed copies of ads designed by Bob Bertram, charging my two resident critics at Kool Bean a fee for talking patiently with them, etc. Nah, all bad ideas.

Besides, I’ve got to run and pick up the swimsuit issue.