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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

“Stick our logo on your bum”

Yesterday I got an e-mail from a firm called Laptops Direct headed, “Use your body to advertise our logo and get £5,000”

Who could resist such an offer?

Not a cheap bastard like me, so I clicked through and saw “WE’LL PAY FOR YOUR LAPTOP AND GIVE YOU £5000.”

Then I clicked through and read:

• Are you looking for extra income?
• Could you use £5000 for doing no extra work?
• Have you always thought about getting a tattoo but didn't know which design to choose?

I checked quickly to see if it said “Are you a penniless lunatic?” – but no, it didn’t.

Then I read:

We're looking to recruit body advertisers to help promote our flagship brand. There's up to £5000 available depending on where you want to put the tattoo.

I asked myself what the hell a flagship brand is, before moving on swiftly to see that if I put Laptops Direct Limited on my forehead I could get £5,000.

However, prices vary for “other areas” it explained helpfully next to a picture of what I guess is the flagship brand name tattooed on the either side of some cheeky little buttocks.

Numbers are limited to 50 people, and not just any idiot is accepted:

You must take a drug test and successfully complete a short psychological questionnaire to ensure you are of sound mind

You must be over 18 years of age and have had no previous mental health problems (Though I guess you must have them now).

You must be a tattoo virgin - "It would cramp our brand if there were other competing tattoos"

You must attend an annual check-up to ensure you have not removed the tattoo, have not had any other tattoos added and are still of sound mind.

Providing you meet the above criteria, the firm will pay for your tattoo to be done at their "designated tattooist" in Huddersfield and will pay you immediately afterwards.

You will be responsible for your own transport to and from Huddersfield although for full forehead tattoos they will pay for overnight accommodation as they want to do a brief medical check in the morning.

I can understand this. Since only someone deranged would do this you want to be sure they stay deranged.

Laptops Direct is actually a Sunday Times fast Track 100 Winner, and “the first UK Company to enter the growing market of Body Advertising”. I guess that figures in a bizarre sort of way. If the current number is nil, and you’re the first, it is indeed growing. If someone else does it, then it will have doubled.

Successful candidates will sign up to a yearly contact after agreeing to have a tattoo of the LaptopsDirect logo.

This brings me naturally to the inspired individual behind this media breakthrough. The firm’s Managing Director, Nick Glynne, is in a video on the landing page. He explains what led to this courageous foray into the realm of marketing dementia.

With an admirable grasp of business cliché he discloses the strategy underlying what I fear must be an “initiative” – and probably an “innovative” one, too:

"It is a competitive market out there and it's getting harder and more expensive to find creative ways of promoting our brand. We're constantly looking for new and inventive ways to get our name out there and I think Body Advertising offers us a cost effective and creative way to reach thousands of people."

The firm now spends most of its £1m advertising budget online. "Online advertising is becoming more and more costly. However a person is seen by approximately 50 unique people each day and so not only will the cost of the tattoo be comparable to the cost of a Google Ad but it will be also be an interesting talking point," reveals Nick.

You can say that again, Nick. On second thoughts, don't bother, but I’d love to know what phony research arrived at the 50 people figure and how unique they are. You have to be pretty unique to be impressed by some maniac with their brand name tattooed on his or her arse just a few short but vital inches from where it belongs.

All sorts of errant throughts flit through my mind at this point to do with how you might be afflicted if you were fond of a certain romantic position. How would the sight of a human poster before or below your eyes affect your performance? A bit of a let down, I suspect.

But enough: if you want halfwits roaming the streets with your brand name on their bodies, you should copy this idea. I imagine it will swiftly circle the globe through the miracle of viral marketing, as it is so ludicrous.

However, what it will do for your flagship brand, I have no idea. Probably sink it without trace.

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