Thu 08

On Your Face Advertising

What Max Reckons Another day, another company tattooing itself onto people’s foreheads. This is why I love marketing: it’s not just shameless, it’s shameless and imitative. In 2003 it was Dunkin’ Donuts, now it’s Toyota taking the word “brand” too literally and slapping Scion logos and prices onto 40 human foreheads in Times Square.

“This is the first time we’ve used foreheads,” says Toyota exec Brian Bolain, which is, just quietly, not a sentence you want to put into your press releases, Brian; not ever, not about anything. It sounds like there could be a second time; like forehead billboards could be the next big thing in advertising real estate. Presumably companies will pay varying rates for foreheads, based on available space (low hairlines equals low pay, people with fringes need not apply) and smoothness of texture (perhaps a deduction per zit).

But wait! I’m forgetting the most important part: attractiveness. Because the point of forehead advertising is to embed the brand into the human host, so it becomes the most whole-hearted product endorsement ever. A person wearing a corporate tattoo says: I like this product so much, it’s literally oozing out of my skin! You don’t want uglies walking around embodying your product; if you’re buying human flesh by the inch, you want the good stuff. The nice-looking stuff.

In the Ad Age report, Josh Tierney, one of the walking corporate billboards, says, “It is a little compromising.” Getting the tattoo, that is. The logo tattoo. Tattooed on his forehead. Josh strikes me as the kind of guy you want around when your plane crashes in the Andes and you need to pick someone to eat; he’d complain, but only a little.

I have no doubt that this was pitched to Josh as a bit of fun: make some money, do something silly, why not? Don’t worry about concepts like dignity and individuality: you can have them back when you’re done. But look at the pic of the two marketing geniuses who convinced him, standing in Times Square as their forty Frankenstein Inc’s monsters roam around. Decent-looking guys. Nice, wide, smooth foreheads. But whaddya know? No tattoos.