New Ad Space For Hire

This afternoon my 541 group and I were talking about  marketing ideas for our campaign project. Recognizing that we have quite an advertising challenge and a limited budget, we talked about how we need to think way outside the box to make our campaign and product make a statement. We talked about guerrilla marketing techniques as a they could be great if they are used wisely and make sense with the product. Later on, while viewing my daily email blast from PSFK, I saw an article entitled “Buttocks Used As Placement For Olympic Advertising”. My only thought was “now that is way out of the box thinking”. Outdoor advertising has now been taken to new heights, or bottoms.

Athlete endorsements are still a way advertisers aim to leverage their presence in key events like the Olympics. For them, moving beyond the traditional television campaign is a crucial media strategy that supports their brand message. But does it really work? With the saturation of endorsements, we (the viewer) can almost become immune to them and many times see them as only part of the athlete’s uniform. I don’t recall if Michael Phelps uses AXE or Head and Shoulders, or if Misty May wears Nike or Nautica. So, what would make a sponsor buy space on an athlete’s butt? Would anyone really pay that much attention? Or would the novelty of the effort be enough to catch some media mentions? And why would athletes (like the U.K. female beach volleyball team) go to such an extreme to gain a sponsorship?

As an advertising professional, this attempt to break through the clutter only makes me smile. With limited budgets, tight competition and a multitude of media outlets, advertisers need to look beyond the traditional means to make their statement. And while the Olympic committee may still be discussing whether this type of advertising meets their codes, buttocks all over London may be getting ready to roll out their own campaign. Let the game of sponsorship begin!

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6 Responses to New Ad Space For Hire

  1. This is a really fun topic. Thanks for posting it. A number of athletes have received endorsement money with the hope of displaying an organization’s name or URL on their body. However, the IOC and IAAF have ruled against body advertising, or body billboards, for the Olympics. Yet, it’s legal in the USA. Body advertising is brilliant. The camera is on the athlete the entire time. It is the Olympics after all. Athletes are watched incessantly and the majority, if not all, of the sports have uniforms that reveal a lot of skin.

    That skin, which is visible on TV and in thousands of pictures, is prime real estate for an advertisement. If you put your URL on the butt of female volleyball player, then you better have enough hosting space to avoid crashing your server. Everyone and their mama would visit that URL out of curiosity.

    One American athlete, Nick Symmonds, even held a contest on eBay for organizations to bid for a spot on his shoulder. He eventually received $11,000 for the ad placement. But, he has to cover the ad, which is in the form of a temporary tattoo, with tape during the Olympics.

    Advertising goes a long way when it comes to athletics. There’s more to it than what you see on the surface. An endorsement by an organization feeds, houses, and pays for an athlete’s travel and training expenses. Athletes want to make sure the organization gets exposure so that in return they’d continue to sponsor them. An advertisement on skin during the biggest stage would be the ultimate ROI.

    Imagine an athlete like Phelps for example getting interviewed after winning a medal…now imagine him getting interviewed with a temporary tattoo of the Subway logo on his forehead. Subway is able to get their brand’s logo on TV without paying additional advertising fees. The Washington Redskins owner actually got into serious trouble by setting up post-game interviews inside the stadium with advertisements in the distant background, but still visible. The advertisements were for organizations who weren’t official NFL sponsors. He wanted to make extra money on the side, so he solicited outside organizations to pay for additional advertising.

  2. mirish says:

    This is a very interesting concept. Were there many details about the sponsorships currently in motion? Do all the ads come in the form of temporary tattoos? Is it the company or the athlete’s decision about where the ad is placed? It would be interesting to know more about successful “body ad” campaigns.

  3. Christie Malamatos says:

    Hello Esthela~

    Wow! I am not sure if I am embarrassed, offended, or grossed out. I understand that in many cases advertising goes unnoticed, but is the degradation of civility worth making a buck. Certainly “shock advertising” has it place, yet at what point does it go too far. Pushing the limits seems the current pastime. Movies, music, and advertising have brought about cultural changes in society and I would submit that many have been positive, yet countless others have been diminishing and negative. This is not to indicate that I am a do-gooder or a prude, just someone who thinks back to her childhood when I Love Lucy was seen as unacceptable television for wanting to show Lucy pregnant. What happened to times when life was simple and modesty was encouraged? Although I disagree with this form of advertising, your post was very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Nkemdilim Obiora says:

    Although we can become desensitized to the overload of advertisements I think it still reaches an audience. As kids become aware of what is going on the world, they are viewing their favorite athlete on television and working to emulate them. I think that there is still that dream that if they get what their favorite athletes have, they too can succeed.

    As for butt advertising, it raises eyebrows. It may be a controversial way of advertising but it does spark dialogue which stirs up attention. Most of these sports are being overshadowed by other sources that have become more popular, namely Basketball, track, gymnastics and in the last Olympics, swimming. This new attention will help bring an awareness to women’s sports and get these the names of these athletes out there. If the whole team is for it, no one feels degraded, and doesn’t bring down women, I’m for it. Thanks for the awareness.

  5. Mike Nicholson says:

    “Buttocks used as placement for Olympic advertising” with the question, is it effective? Isn’t that dependent upon the buttocks?

    I think this is a trend in sports as they are looking for addition ways to make money. The NBA recently announced they would allow some advertising on its uniforms. If you think of an athlete as a NASCAR product, then we may see all kinds of advertisements eventually placed on their uniforms. Personally, I don’t know if Id be persuaded to look at a product because an advertisement was placed somewhere on the uniform or body, but Im sure its worth a try and while the is relatively little data on it now, there may be more data in the future after some experiments that will let us know if it is effective means of advertising or not.


  6. Gail says:

    Soon athletes will compete with NASCAR to see who can be more covered in endorsements. I think this is a shame and I agree with Christie about being embarrassed, offended and grossed out. Perhaps the IOC should let the public invest in the athletes (like buying stock) so they don’t have to resort to distracting stunts to raise money for their profession.