Kate Upton. Kate Upton. What's the name of the blonde bombshell who's been burning up the Internet for over a year? KATE UPTON, and I know this because she's trending on Google like every single day.
Models usually end up in the news when they score a high-profile, super-coveted gig (or they start shacking up with Leonardo DiCaprio), but Upton has managed to keep her own buzz going for an unusually long time -- thanks in no small part to her popularity online.
What's the secret to Kate Upton's success? Well, it has a lot to do with that banging body and all-American appeal, but Upton may be the first supermodel whose background is firmly rooted in social media.
If you want to try and copy Upton's shockingly fast ascension to near-ubiquity status (at only 19 years old, by the way), here are 5 key ingredients to leveraging Internet fame into modeling superstardom:
Do the Dougie.
Yeah, so this video is pretty much where it all started. It's about a minute of Upton at an L.A. Clippers game, and she's doing the Dougie -- which, according to Wikipedia, is "a hip-hop dance generally performed by moving one's body in a shimmy style and passing a hand through or near the hair on one's own head." The more you know™!
Anyway, over 7 million people have watched this clip, and maybe it was the somewhat surprising combination of model + fun personality, but this little video officially launched her into It Girl status.
Land the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Upton was in the Swimsuit Issue in 2011, when she was named "Rookie of the Year." By February 2012, however, she'd landed that famous cover -- thanks to her new YouTube fans.
According to Wayne Sterling, the publisher of Models.com,
We all know that social media now creates its own reality. If you become a YouTube star among teenagers, you have even more recognizability than a TV star. Kate Upton is the perfect example of that.
Oh, and she kept the online chatter going with that bikini she wore on the cover. Or more specifically, the question of just it is what we're looking at south of the border. Is it real, or is it Photoshop? (Men everywhere: "WHO CARES??")
Now do the Cat Daddy.
In yet another Kate-Upton-dancing-and-looking-hot video that's gone viral, the influential fashion photographer Terry Richardson posted a video of Upton doing the Cat Daddy ("For this dance, you cross your arms in front of you, then behind, then you move your hands in a wheel chair motion while going down low"), and the Internet went BONKERS over it.
Monetize your Twitter feed.
Over 400,000 Twitter followers seem to enjoy all sorts of merchandising-oriented tweets from Upton, including plugs for Skullcandy, AXE body spray, Beach Bunny Swimwear, 2K Sports, and more.
Appear in a Carl's Jr. ad.
In addition to appearances on SNL, Letterman, Tosh.0, Tower Heist, and The Three Stooges, she's also done commercials for Carl’s JR and Zoo York. Has she proven her appeal across multiple categories? I'd say so. Plus, nothing gets shared among frat dudes on Facebook like a steamy, sloppy, weird porn/food juxtaposition Carl's Jr. ad.
Clearly, Kate Upton is more than just a pretty face. Despite some backlash over her popularity (Sophia Neophitou, who casts the Victoria’s Secret runway show, once said of Upton: “We would never use her. She’s like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy” ), Upton seems fully confident in what she's got -- and how to make the most of her online allure:
People told me I couldn’t be fashion, that I’m just an old-fashioned body girl, only good for swimwear. But I knew that I could bring back the supermodel. Social media brings a personality to models. That’s how consumers today decide what to buy.
Honestly, I suspect her fan base is currently more men than women, but if by "consumers" she means "people buying magazines and watching commercials" rather than "people buying couture," I think she makes a very good point. Fair play to her for taking her Internet fame-ball and running like hell.
What do you think of Kate Upton's newfound popularity? Are you surprised that a viral video played such a big part in her success as a model?
Images via YouTube, Sports Illustrated, Vimeo, Twitter