Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cranial billboards: Another sign of the approach of the mark of the Beast

Another old item from my backlog--as reported by Andrew Adam Newman of The New York Times, February 17, 2009:

TERRY GARDNER, a legal secretary in California, returned home from work recently to find two police officers waiting. They said her brother had told them he thought she might be having a breakdown because she had shaved her head.

Ms. Gardner, 50, said in a telephone interview that she had told the officers that she was fine and had shaved her head for an advertising campaign by Air New Zealand, which had hired her to display a temporary tattoo. She turned around and showed them the message, written in henna on the back of her head: "Need A Change? Head Down to New Zealand. www.airnewzealand.com."

Ms. Gardner was among 30 of what the airline calls "cranial billboards." For shaving their noggins and displaying the ad copy for two weeks in November, they received either a round-trip ticket to New Zealand (worth about $1,200) or $777 in cash (an allusion to the Boeing 777, a model in the airline’s fleet)...

...A similar marketing campaign in England in January for FeelUnique.com, an online beauty products store, paid 10 men and women to apply temporary tattoos with the company’s Web address on their eyelids and then wink at strangers. Chosen randomly from more than 6,000 who applied online, participants were paid 100 pounds (about $149) to wink at people 1,000 times, or 10 pence a wink, an allusion to pay-per-view Web advertising.

The campaign was run by the London public relations firm Mischief. Dan Glover, a creative director at Mischief, said the concept led to articles in regional, national and international media and — most important for the site, whose goal was to generate traffic — hundreds of links from other sites.

Tattoo-related advertising stunts go back to at least 2001, when Golden Palace, an online gambling site, paid the middleweight boxer Bernard Hopkins to wear a temporary tattoo with its Web address during a televised bout. The stunt drew the ire of boxing authorities and ESPN. Over the next couple of years, the casino also paid the former "Partridge Family" star Danny Bonaduce and others on a Fox celebrity boxing series to apply henna tattoos.

In 2005, Andrew Fischer, then 20 and living in Omaha, set up an eBay auction offering his forehead as a site for a temporary tattoo advertisement for one month. Green Pharmaceuticals’ Snore- Stop won with a $37,375 bid, and Mr. Fischer appeared on national programs, including "Good Morning America," and in scores of newspapers and Web sites. Soon afterward, Mr. Fischer sold his forehead a second time — to Golden Palace — but got just $5,000 and scant media attention. His forehead has remained ad-free since...

...Golden Palace has gone the farthest in testing the boundaries of taste. In 2005, through an eBay auction, the casino paid Kari Smith, of Bountiful, Utah, who was then 30, $10,000 to permanently tattoo its Web address on her forehead in large block letters.

It has also paid several pregnant women to display temporary tattoos on their rounded bellies, which they agreed to bare at malls and football stadiums. (Several phone messages and e-mail messages to the casino were not returned.)

Since 2005, Dunlop Tires has hired tattoo artists to work at its booth at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, geared to motorists who modify cars. Volunteers who agree to be permanently tattooed — either with Dunlop’s logo or its trademarked tire tread — while onlookers gawk receive a set of tires worth $500 to $1,000, said Jim Davis, a Dunlop spokesman. About 200 people have been tattooed so far.

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