It’s probably a sign of these economic times, but tattoo-related advertising may be on the upswing, suggests a recent news report in the New York Times.
The article focused on people who have shaved their heads to make them available for a temporary tattoo advertisement. Last November, for example, some 30 people volunteered to be “cranial billboards” for Air New Zealand. For two weeks they went about with a brief slogan for the airline and its Web site URL displayed across the backs of their heads.
Their payment? A round-trip ticket to New Zealand (worth about $1,200) or a cash payment of $777. Half took the cash.
These tattoos involved a henna dye, which, although not risk-free (it can cause allergic contact dermatitis), is at least temporary. More worrisome are reports of people undergoing permanent tattooing to earn advertising money. The Times article also reported that since 2005, Dunlop Tires has permanently tattooed about 200 people with its logo or trademarked tire tread. Participants receive a set of tires worth $500 to $1,000.
Studies have shown that 28 percent of people who receive permanent tattoos almost immediately regret having gotten them. Many more regret them as time passes. As any dermatologist knows, skin reactions to the tattoos, including serious ones, can also occur.
Let’s hope tattoo advertising is one cultural trend that will quickly run its course. Otherwise more people will be spending more on tattoo removal than they received getting the tattoo in the first place.
Source: Newman AA. The body as billboard: your ad here. New York Times. February 18, 2009.