January 11, 2005
This Space For Rent
Two years ago, I wrote an article about Cunning Stunts, an English company that was attempting to sell advertising space on the foreheads of college students. Apparently, since then, there has been much happening on the Stupid-Idiots-Selling-Ads-On-Their-Body beat. Thanks to an alert reader named Jules, I've learned about one man who is trying to cut out the middleman in all of this. Andrew Fisher of Omaha, Nebraska is actually using eBay to auction off advertising space on his own forehead. While students with Cunning Stunts were only making about $150, Fisher stands to earn considerably more.
When I first checked his auction yesterday morning, the high bid was $399, which already seemed like quite a lot for the slimy forehead of some twenty-year-old. That was nothing. Now, twenty-four hours and one BBC appearance later, the bidding has reached a rather phenomenal $21,150. Yes, you read that right: Over $20,000 for a forehead in Nebraska. Wow, and I was willing to go as high as five bucks.
Okay, maybe he's not such a stupid idiot, after all. The bidding may not even stop at $20,000. There are still two days left in the auction and plenty more deranged people with cash who could be stopping by. Who knows what the final price will be, especially now that he has also received worldwide attention here at JoeLavin.com? That must be good for at least another fifteen cents.
This isn't even a permanent tattoo either. These people are paying only for a temporary tattoo that young Mr. Fisher will place on his forehead for thirty days. The tattoo can be just about anything -- a logo, a slogan, or a web address. Luckily, he has standards. As he told the BBC, "I wouldn't go around with 666, the mark of the beast." If it's a web site, he also asks that it doesn't link to anything offensive. Then again, if you have a questionable site, I wouldn’t worry. As he's willing to do this in the first place, he may have a much looser definition of the word "offensive" than the rest of us.
All of this is hardly new. In the last two years, there have been a number of auctions for body parts. One woman even tried to auction off space on the top half of her breasts for a temporary tattoo. Unfortunately, she didn't go through with it because the reserve on her breasts was never met, which must really be humiliating. There's nothing quite like putting a price tag on two of your most attractive assets, and then finding out that nobody's interested.
As for Andrew Fisher, he's apparently just a normal guy. He writes at eBay, "I live a normal life. I work days. I go out nights. I go to the mall, I go to movies on midnight openings, and yes, I even drive a mini-van. … I am a very social person. I am your average American Joe, give or take." Great, another average Joe! His e-mail address even starts with "averagejoe," which is just insulting to anyone named Joe. When I pull some shameless stunt, do I go around calling myself an "Average Andy?"
Fisher claims to be a very social person. He had better be. If I were the one paying over $20,000 for advertising space on his forehead, I would want him out and about every moment of the day. No bathroom breaks for you, buddy. And for that much money I think I would demand that he do a lot more than visit the Omaha club scene. Hey, Andy, you had better at least be taking some day trips to Lincoln.
Then again, more power to him. After all, if the bids are actually legitimate, he's the one about to collect over $20,000 just for putting a 30-day tattoo on his head. I'm thinking of coming up with a similar scheme, but so far the best I can come up with is to cook advertisements into grilled cheese sandwiches and then sell them on eBay. Somehow, I don't think that's going to cut it.
It has finally happened. Advertising has come to the human body. An advertising agency in London is actually paying university students 88 pounds a week to wear temporary tattoos of corporate logos on their foreheads. ( More.... )
This Advertising Rant is Sponsored by ...
About every month, I learn of another crazy marketing scheme, and I wonder whether there will ever come a day when advertisers simply run out of space on which to advertise. Already, I have mocked ads on cars, temporary tattoos of logos on foreheads, and baseball's ridiculous plan to put the "Spideman" logo on the bases. There has even been advertising in urinals, a subject I would rather not touch except to say that this is possibly the worst form of name recognition advertising ever. ( More.... )