Bodies as Billboards

February 20th, 2009

Yes, you read that correctly. In the ever-cluttered battle of the brands, some companies are taking the quest for “mindshare” to a new level.

In fact, 30 people in California agreed to participate in “cranial billboards” for Air New Zealand back in November. Participants shaved their heads and applied temporary tattoos that read: “Need a Change? Head Down to New Zealand.” For a head rental and a really bad haircut, participants received either a round-trip ticket to New Zealand or $777 in cash (for all of you wondering about the significance of $777, it’s an allusion to the Boeing 777, a model in the airline’s fleet).

Air New Zealand isn’t the only company asking people to serve as human billboards. In January, British-based online beauty products store paid ten men and women to apply temporary tattoos with the company’s website to their eyelids. They were then encouraged to walk around winking at strangers so they could see the message. Participants were paid $149 to wink at people 1,000 times.While this is somewhat clever and definitely amusing, I can’t help but ask — have we gone loco to raise awareness about our logos? Sure, shaving your head or wearing a temporary tattoo seems harmless enough. But that’s just the beginning; some companies are actually offering cash for permanent tatts. For the past four years, Dunlop Tires has hired tattoo artists to work its booth at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Vegas. Volunteers who agree to be permanently tattooed with tire tread or the company logo receive a tire set worth $500-$1,000 — and a pretty bad reminder of how low they’d go for a free ride.

Every company strives to build a loyal and passionate consumer base, but this is getting out of hand. Getting a permanent tattoo of a logo definitely takes it to the next level and makes me wonder, whatever happened to a good-old fashioned t-shirt?
Posted Under: Advertising, Media & Journalism, Viral & Guerilla Marketing
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