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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Sat 18
Aug
2007

Your Future Career: Being Awesome

What Max Reckons

Aussies in Melbourne: I’m appearing at the Melbourne Writers Festival this coming week. See? I am too.

Let’s get this out of the way first: some parents tried to name their baby “@,” which is the name of a character in Syrup. I guess it’s a good month for real-life Syrup connections. Unfortunately the baby does not appear to be a blonde, slutty, backstabbing corporate villain, but still: I need to mention it because every newspaper in the world ran the story, and everyone who’s read Syrup (all seventeen of you, bless you) e-mailed me about it.

Going above and beyond, however, was Andrea, who also pointed me toward TatAD (“Bring your advertising to life!”), which is a company that brings together corporations who want to get their logos branded onto human skin and people who think that sounds like a pretty good idea:

Are you ready to start making some BIG BUCKS as a TatAD promoter? All you have to do is get our logo tattooed on you! Then get ready to cash in BIG TIME!

To its credit, TatAD takes the time to address the notion that getting yourself imprinted with a logo for money is some kind of sell-out:

You are already a walking billboard for your favorite companies simply by wearing their clothes or driving their cars or smoking their cigarettes.

You are a salesman for your favorite companies without a paycheck!

In fact… YOU PAY THEM!!!

Don’t look at it as the corporate world has initiated this, the people have, we had no potential sponsors when we began, only people who wanted to be sponsored.

When you look at it from that angle there is no corporate sell out, in fact it’s the other way around. We have the opportunity to get something in return for once.

It’s that simple, we’re all walking billboards anyway so why not get paid to do it

Now, I might quibble with TatAD that there is a difference between simply telling people about a product you like, and getting paid to be branded with logos. A few differences, actually. One of which is “credibility.” But that’s just details. What interested me most was TatAD’s supply and demand problem. Their forums are full of people people pleading to be tattooed, many being not too particular about with what, exactly. (My favorite: “Who wants my face?”) It’s clearly a buyers market: if you’re looking to imprint your logo on some flesh, you’ve got yards and yards to choose from.

So naturally you’d look for prime real estate: the young, the beautiful, the admired, and the desired—as opposed to, say, the guy who has “a few spaces left on my right forearm”. Sorry, dude, in advertising we call that clutter. It’s the same rules as celebrity endorsement: if you’re a sports star, Nike pays you to wear its products; if not, you pay Nike. But now the bar is much lower. You don’t need to be one of the best tennis players in the world; you can earn a little sponsorship money just by being kind of awesome.

Ideally you’re gorgeous, of course. That’s the kind of awesomeness that everyone understands. But I bet an admired DJ can make a few bucks from logo tattoos, no matter what he looks like. Or a college high jump star. Anyone who’s kind of awesome, even on a relatively small scale, I think can look forward to a bright future of ever-increasing options for turning their awesomeness into cash. A certain amount of shamelessness will be required, of course. But that’s a small price to pay for being able to make a career out of being awesome. After all, you were going to do that anyway.

Comments

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Daniel DiFranco (#243)

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Quote: "Panic Years, a novel, out Spring 2018."
Posted: 4299 days ago

Wow. This is not the first time the offspring of your fancy has found its way into reality....(nor is it the first time you so humbly let us all know about it....) You sir, are a prophetic sage.

Let us hope that the crazies do not do strange things in your name via a Max Barry cult. Unless some of those things include buying multiple editions of your complete printed works.

Take it easy Max,
Dann, Member 243.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 4297 days ago

Isn't awesomeness kinda its own reward? I always thought awesome (or attractive) people get all the benefits anyway, so why should there be one more opportunity for them to get some money out of it?

On the other hand, it would be a great chance for them to disfigure themselves for money and thus illustrate their greed and stupidity, if applicable. That's kinda cool, actually. Just imagine Paris Hilton with some kind of condom ad tattooed all across her forehead. (Not that she's awesome or attractive, but I guess she would get a good TatAd deal, right?)

Or maybe next time she stars in a horror movie she could cut off a body part to promote it. Maybe a finger or something. You could use the image of the dismembered hand as a teaser poster and show the severed finger in a display at Mann's Chinese Theatre.

Oh, crap... I think I had too much coffee. Let's get back to work.

Machine Man subscriber Marleen (#2741)

Location: Berlin, Germany
Quote: "I want more expensive shoes in one place than I've ever seen in my whole life."
Posted: 4297 days ago

Well, the real difference is: you don't like your nike jacket anymore, you get a new one! Once you have nike tattooed on your forehead... not.

austin (#2462)

Location: rhode island
Quote: "hmmm...bleh..."
Posted: 4297 days ago

Hey Max, I'll sell you my forehead so you can tattoo "Buy Max Barry's Books". Sound good?

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4296 days ago

Depends; how awesome are you?

austin (#2462)

Location: rhode island
Quote: "hmmm...bleh..."
Posted: 4296 days ago

Oh on a scale of one to ten, a definate 8.5

Jak (#2464)

Quote: "The Straight-Jacket makes it hard to type."
Posted: 4295 days ago

I think that Max's next book should come with a free t-shirt advertising it.

P.S. The back of my right hand is for sale.

P Oosterbroek (#3261)

Location: The Netherlands
Quote: "Please form an orderly queue, there is plenty of doom for everyone."
Posted: 4295 days ago

You talk about awesome as a binary state, but if a very handsome guy could get 100€, I should be able to get at least 10. No matter how ugly you are, you are always going to draw at least some attention. I've seen people in wheelchairs with advertisement because people are always staring at them.

Maybe we can even feed the homeless with this plan.
Instead of holding signs and washing car windows they could walk around shirtless advertising with their tattoos. Then when they make some money they'd could spend it on looking better and move up the tattoo-wage ladder!

Jaap (#3247)

Location: The mystical land of frolicking naked nymphs
Quote: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."
Posted: 4295 days ago

"Unfortunately the baby does not appear to be a blonde, slutty, backstabbing corporate villain"

Don't you mean not yet Max?

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 4291 days ago

Hey Max,

this might interest you. A little. Maybe.

http://kotaku.com/gaming/pax-07/the-keynote-speech-293411.php

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 4290 days ago

>> Maybe we can even feed the homeless with this plan.
>> Instead of holding signs and washing car windows they could >> walk around shirtless advertising with their tattoos. Then >> when they make some money they'd could spend it on looking >> better and move up the tattoo-wage ladder!

No need to use tattoos, clothing with adverts would be just as good. And it has already been tried! Not sure how succesfull the experiment was, though. Homeless people are pretty invisible to people trying hard enough to ignore them; so they're not that good a medium for advertisement

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