All’s fair in love and advertising. The body is a giant marketing canvas. Right? Isn’t that how those old clichés go?
Marketing firm Absolute Territory PR is currently making a killing by renting out the legs of comely young Japanese women to sell their clients’ products.
Parents will be pleased to know their daughters are placing corporate stickers on their thighs in the space between knee-high socks and the hemline of their mini-skirts. This area of exposed flesh is called "absolute territory" in Japan and is a rough translation of the phrase “zettai ryouiki koukoku”.
The young women are then paid, but only after they post photos of themselves with stickers on their social media pages, like branded cattle entirely complicit in their own branding.
The idea is to attract as many eyeballs to a company logo as possible, so you can imagine the sorts of short skirts some of these young women wear to get attention.
The Daily Mail notes that the strategy has proved wildly successful.
Businesses across Tokyo are lining up to get in on the trend and since November 2012, more than 1,300 young women have registered their legs as advertising space.
“According to Eichi Atsumi - a spokesperson at the company running the service - the only guidelines that have to be met to get the job are that the registered person is connected to at least more than 20 people on some social network and that they are over 18 years old,” the article notes.
But before you go blaming Japan for its alternative approach to good taste, note that American band Green Day has also jumped on the bandwagon, promoting their latest album !Uno! with a little leg sticker action.
And compared to other extreme advertising practices, this one seems rather parochial.
Air New Zealand started hiring “cranial billboards” back in 2008 – men and women who were happy to shave their heads in order to display the company’s advertising slogan on the back of their skulls in temporary tattoo form.
The height of bad taste? Not even close.
Rochester, NY resident Joe Tamargo claims he made $200,000 by allowing companies to tattoo their logos all over his body – well, the parts visible to most people anyway. These tattoos aren’t temporary, even if the companies were.
“When I tell [people] the story, they're like, ‘Yo, that's pretty cool. I'm going to check out those websites.’ And then they get there and there's nothing on the website,” Tamargo says, referring to the fact that most of the companies now etched permanently on his epidermis have gone belly up.
“Skinvertisement” started a decade ago, when an Illinois man named Jim Nelson allowed a company called CIHost.com to repeatedly drive needles filled with ink into his body until their logo was clearly displayed on his skin.
Since then, thousands of these human billboards have followed suit, sporting corporate advertising tattoos on places as conspicuous as their foreheads.
So when you think of these examples, a little sticker on the leg doesn’t seem half as creepy as it did at the beginning of this article.