Sports Illustrated Swimsuit wants gender-equity ads from brands—not product pitches

Why now for “Pay with Change”?

Since our founding, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has been a brand empowering women. We’ve been laying the groundwork for initiatives like Pay with Change for years and, as the ongoing pandemic continues to exacerbate the challenges women face each day, we know that now is the time to make a bold move and an even bigger impact. 

When you say advertisers “will have to advertise progress, not a product,” how do you define “progress”?

To participate in Pay with Change and become a certified Changemaker, brands will need to prove progress in the form of a commitment to being advocates for women. This might take the form of an internal commitment to pay equity for female employees or an external commitment to challenging the status quo of what it means to be a woman by representing a more diverse range of women in marketing and advertising initiatives.

When launching this initiative, we wanted to ensure that we were celebrating all of the changes brands are making in all the varied ways women need it. We know that women are not a monolith and that problems come in all shapes and sizes, so we truly admire brands that take the initiative and choose to support women across all walks of life.

Will SI offer custom-publishing or ad-creative support to help brands craft their messages?

Yes, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit will offer support for ad creation for Changemakers in the issue, as well as an official logo lockup for each partner.

It might surprise some people to realize that SI has been shifting its audience gender mix. Got any details on that to share?

We have struggled for years, fighting against the many misconceptions associated with our brand, but we’ve kept pushing forward. We’ve witnessed an increase in engagement among women in recent years, to the tune of a 29% increase in female readership in 2021 alone. Additionally, on our digital platforms, 50% of our audience is female.

What kind of initial response are you getting to Pay with Change from advertisers?

We’ve gotten early and positive support for this program, as many of our existing partners’ organizational missions align with our own when it comes to women’s rights and gender equity.

What’s your target for brand participation?

It is our hope and goal to celebrate at least 20 Changemakers in the May 2022 issue, but if we cannot fill advertising space because of the new mandate, we will leave the pages blank as proof that there is so much more work to be done. We are committed to doing that work if it comes to it. In launching Pay with Change today, we’re calling on brands and others in the industry to join us, leveraging our collective platforms to empower women.