1980sTV Ads

TV Ads – 1986 – Lyle Alzado For Sports Illustrated


Sports Illustrated is an American sports media franchise owned by Meredith Corporation….as Its self-titled magazine has over 3 million subscribers….and is read by 23 million people each week….including over 18 million men.  It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence twice….whereby Its swimsuit issue has been published since 1964…which has now become an annual publishing event that generates its own television shows, videos and calendars.

There were two magazines named Sports Illustrated before the current magazine began on August 16, 1954…..as in 1936, Stuart Scheftel created Sports Illustrated with a target market for the sportsman…. when he published the magazine from 1936 to 1938 on a monthly basis….as the magazine focused on golf, tennis, and skiing with articles on the major sports. He then sold the name to Dell Publications, which released Sports Illustrated in 1949 and this version lasted 6 issues before closing. Dell’s version focused on major sports baseball, basketball, boxing and competed on magazine racks against Sport and other monthly sports magazines. During the 1940’s these magazines were monthly and they did not cover the current events because of the production schedules. There was no large-base, general, weekly sports magazine with a national following on actual active events….so, it was then that Time patriarch Henry Luce began considering whether his company should attempt to fill that gap. At the time, many believed sports was beneath the attention of serious journalism…..and did not think sports news could fill a weekly magazine….especially during the winter. A number of advisers to Luce, including Life magazine’s Ernest Havemann, tried to kill the idea….but Luce, who was not a sports fan, decided the time was right.  

The goal of the new magazine was to be basically a magazine, but with sports. Many at Time-Life scoffed at Luce’s idea….as he explained in his Pulitzer Prize winning biography, Luce and His Empire….when  W. A. Swanberg wrote that the company’s intellectuals dubbed the proposed magazine “Muscle”, “Jockstrap” and “Sweat Socks”.  Launched on August 16, 1954, it was not profitable (and would not be so for 12 years)….plus, it wasn’t particularly well run at first….but Luce’s timing was good…..cuz the popularity of spectator sports in the United States was about to explode….and that popularity came to be driven largely by three thing….economic prosperity, television, and Sports Illustrated.  

After more than a decade of steady losses, the magazine’s fortunes finally turned around in the 1960’s when Andre Laguerre became its managing editor. A European correspondent for Time, Inc…..who later became chief of the Time-Life news bureau in Paris and London….when Laguerre attracted Henry Luce’s attention in 1956 with his singular coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy…. which became the core of SI’s coverage of those games. In May 1956, Luce brought Laguerre to New York to become assistant managing editor of the magazine….then he was named managing editor in 1960…. and he more than doubled the circulation by instituting a system of departmental editors, redesigning the internal format and inaugurating the unprecedented use in a news magazine of full-color photographic coverage of the week’s sports events. He was also one of the first to sense the rise of national interest in professional football….hence the issues that Oakland Raiders DT Lyle Alzado in this video herewith. 

Laguerre also instituted the innovative concept of one long story at the end of every issue….which he called the “bonus piece”….for these well-written, in-depth articles helped to distinguish Sports Illustrated from other sports publications….while helping launch the careers of such legendary writers as Frank Deford, who in March 2010 wrote of Laguerre, “He smoked cigars and drank Scotch and made the sun move across the heavens … His genius as an editor was that he made you want to please him, but he wanted you to do that by writing in your own distinct way.”  Laguerre is also credited with the conception and creation of the annual Swimsuit Issue….which quickly became, and remains, the most popular issue each year.

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