People en Español is building on its successful annual print franchise "The 50 Most Beautiful People" ("Los 50 Más Bellos") -- the magazine's best-selling and fattest issue of the year -- to create a multiplatform promotion that goes deeply into the realm of user-generated content.
This year the Time Inc. magazine, working with Yahoo Telemundo as a digital partner, will name a non-celebrity as the 51st most beautiful person after calculating his or her online popularity. To enter, contenders upload their photos for their peers to scrutinize and vote on through the website or by text message.
"We brainstormed about how to make it consumer-centric, and the idea of doing a contest for who could be the 51st-most-beautiful mushroomed," said Jackie Hernandez, publisher of People en Español.
Verizon Wireless is the main sponsor, with online ads, original mobile content, a role in the voting and a gatefold featuring the winner in the "50 Mas Bellos" issue in May.
"The partnership with people en Español's "51 Most Beautiful" contest allows Verizon Wireless to engage with consumers passionate about entertainment," said Lou Rossi, director-advertising at Verizon Wireless.
A few days before entries closed Feb. 3, more than 5,000 photos had been posted, sparking more than 34,000 comments, often extremely personal and ranging from snarky to gushing. One provocatively posed shirtless man garnered 4,295 comments, including "You're a pig"; "You look like a gay stripper"; and "You're a treasure." One woman was told she had too many teeth, but others thought she had a winning smile.
Now the number of contenders will be whittled down in several rounds of voting, and 10 finalists will appear on a show or two on Telemundo, the NBC Universal-owned Spanish-language TV network. The winner, who will be chosen Feb. 28 and revealed on TV in early March, will be flown to New York for a makeover and photo shoot, enjoy red-carpet treatment at People en Español's annual star-studded "50 Más Bello" bash and appear in one of Telemundo's telenovelas.
The winner's activities will be filmed. That content will appear as a behind-the-scenes look in the Verizon-sponsored gatefold in People en Español and be used online.
"We'll take content created around the winner -- the makeover, the event, the walk-on role -- and create mobisodes that Verizon can VCast," said Peter Blacker, Telemundo's senior VP-digital media.
The winner will be in good company -- last year's "50 Más Bellos" included Penélope Cruz and her brother, Eduardo; Salma Hayek; and "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera.
Verizon's digital agency, Publicis Groupe's Moxie Interactive, and multicultural agency GlobalHue worked on the deal.
Mr. Blacker said at first he was nervous that not enough people would participate, but the contest became one of the most popular sections on Yahoo Telemundo overnight. Although most research about young U.S. Hispanics online finds that they tend to prefer English, almost all the comments are in Spanish, apparently a result of promoting the contest heavily through Spanish-language TV and online channels.