Monday, May 22, 2006

When will enough be enough?

Today in our WOM class, the term “forehead marketing” was brought up; painting yourself as a way of advertising. This immediately reminded me of a gentleman I once saw on the Conan O’Brian Show. This man had permanent tattoos on his body of brand names and advertisements for companies that were paying him to do so. It makes me wonder, is this really the next step to advertising? We already walk around with brand names displayed on our shirts, pants, bags, sunglasses, and hats. Now, it has grown to getting these brands tattooed on our bodies.

This phenomenon instantly made me connect humans to two things: racecars and cows. Perhaps soon we will be walking around not only wearing the brands or talking about them, but literally branded with these advertisements. Will my face soon become the colors of Tide? Do the more brands we have make us a better person, as the more advertisements a racecar displays suggests they are a better driver? The second connections, cows, is a bit more bleak. A herder brands his cows with a symbol that signifies his ownership of them. Is it safe to say that we will soon be “owned” by companies that choose to brand us with their names and logos? From the looks of the man on Conan, it does not seem too unlikely. I fear that the future of humans will be walking, talking billboards.

Perhaps the fact that we still wear clothes, hats, shoes, etc. with logos on them, and some of us (not just the man on Conan; people with band tattoos, tattoos that are renditions of famous artists’ paintings, song lyric tattoos perhaps) suggests that WOM has yet to really make its mark in marketing and advertising and I think it really needs to get a move on before we all turn into racecars and cows.



Kennie Swanson said...

Wow Leah,
This is kind of a scary topic! I don't it's too far fetched that the next time one of us walks into a bar, there may be people employed by companies to literally paint themselves as walking - talking advertisements. As you said, this is already happening in different areas such as sports where sponsored athletes sell themselves to represent brands.

However, could this evolve into another stealth-like manuver where social hubs and opinion leaders are targeted through marketing efforts to brand themselves for a profit? Making brand evangelists feel more connected to a company through "forehead marketing" may also be a better way to heighten their WOM on a particular product or service. What do you think? Would you get decked out head to toe with a brand's name all over your face? Is this ethically sound?

NUlax17 said...

It takes a certain kind of person to permanently place an advertisement on their body, such as with a tattoo. I don't know if the majority of society will ever become that serious about promoting a product. I think the closest that we're going to get to that on a large scale is already happening with the logos you mentioned that appear on clothes and accessories. Walking around NU's campus and almost anywhere, brand name printing on clothing are one of the most commonplace. Those without brand names clearly spelled out often have a logo (the polo horse, Abercrombie's Moose, Hollister's Seagull). While I do wear a lot of clothing that has a logo, it's about being associated with the lifestyle the clothing portrays. In a sense, companies are profiting double time off from consumers thanks to the logo trend being fashionable. Firs, they make money off our purchases and then profit from the free advertising you give them when you walk around in the clothes. It seems that WOM can assist the process further because if you see a shirt that you like, you may tell your friend what it looked like and then go get the shirt yourself, or your friend may get it... and so the buzz goes. The tattoo thing is definitely a creationist type campaign. Then again, I do have a tattoo on my leg that was inspired by the Godsmack sun... but I am definitely not promoting their music.

KERandall said...

Great Post! All I know is, I don't want to be a cow... In an earlier post I also mentioned Forehead Marketing, I agree it's outrageous! I don't think it's much to worry about though. Usually companies are paying these insane individuals a hefty price to be "branded." If everyone starts doing this, companies won't have enough to pay people. Although people are already getting tattoos based off of popular music groups or celebrities, I don't think they are stupid enough to tattoo a "brand" on their body for free!