What do the following things have in common: public restrooms, graffiti and tattoos? As strange as it sounds, they’re all potential advertising mediums.
And for campaigns considering unorthodox ad strategies—let’s not forget young people aren’t watching live TV—there may be opportunities hiding in plain sight.
Restrooms: A great environment for awareness campaigns.
Last summer, the state of Michigan and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia used restroom-advertising campaigns to remind motorists not to drink and drive. Michigan employed a federally funded campaign that used talking urinal cakes to keep drunks off the roads during July 4th celebrations. When men stepped up to the urinals in the selected drinking establishments, a recorded message reminded them to call a cab or a friend if they had been drinking and needed to get home safely. In Vancouver, a designated-driver service hung two-dimensional posters resembling urinals in bar restrooms that read, “If you’re peeing here, you’re too drunk to drive.”
Graffiti advertising: Edgy and legal and (possibly) reduces crime.
Graffiti advertising, also known as commercial graffiti, aerosol advertising, or graffiti for hire, is the practice of graffiti artists being paid by businesses or advertisers for their work. In New York City, the graffiti advertising industry is growing. Business owners are increasingly allowing artists to use everything from building walls to railroad boxcars. Global brands such as Coca-Cola, M&M’s, McDonalds, Toyota and Microsoft have hired professional graffiti artists for their out-of-home advertising campaigns.
And TV networks have gotten in on the act. For instance, FX recently held a mural contest in Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York to promote its new series, “The Bridge.”
Still, the method is controversial because critics believe that the acceptance of legal graffiti in public spaces could lead to more illegal graffiti. But those who support graffiti advertising believe it’s helpful in reducing crime by employing young graffiti artists to utilize their talents to achieve entrepreneurial success.
Tattoo advertising: Permanent or temporary, it’s beneficial for advertisers and people looking to make quick money.
The use of tattoos for delivering a message can be compared to branded bumper stickers on cars, with the exception of the person sporting the message gaining something in return. For years, Goodyear has been offering a free set of tires to anyone with its flying –D logo tattooed somewhere on his or her body. It’s starting to appear in campaigns, too.
Last year, a 30-year-old Indiana resident tattooed the Romney/Ryan “R” logo on his face. What he got in return was $5,000 by selling his face on eBay and a lot of publicity. Our firm would never recommend clients purchase ad space on a human for their message. However, temporary tattoos, or human bumper stickers, might be something worth looking into. And if you’re interested in wearing tattoos supplied by an advertiser, or if you are an advertiser looking to supply the tattoos, visit leaseyourbody.com for more information.
If you like this edgy method but tattoos don’t appeal to you, also consider Beardvertising. It’ll blow your mind.
Mandie Suits works at Smart Media Group, a Republican political media buying agency in Alexandria, Va. She is from Saint Albans, W. Va. and is a graduate of West Virginia University’s Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism.
A version of this post was also published on Smart Media Group’s blog, Smart Blog.