Students cash in on 'human billboards' plan

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Students cash in on 'human billboards' plan

John Cassy, media business correspondent

Friday February 7, 2003

Instead of using their brains to better themselves, students are being encouraged to use their heads to reduce their debts. Or, more precisely, their foreheads (pic. 2.14). A creative marketing agency had the idea to turn students' foreheads into billboards.

Pic. 2.14. Forehead ad
The agency, Cunning Stunts, is offering students up to £88.20 a week to wear a corporate logo on their head for a minimum of three hours each day. The brand or product message will be attached by a transfer and the students will be paid to leave the logos untouched.

“With student debt becoming such a massive issue, we thought we'd offer students maximum reward for minimum input,” said Anna Carloss, managing director of Cunning Stunts. “Participating brands get a unique advertising medium as well as giving something back to students.” She said the students would need to be “out and about”; it would not count if they displayed the logos sitting in the library.

Although many students are reluctant to take part, others are eager to sign up. Oli Merrel, at Falmouth College of Arts, in Cornwall, said: “I don't see the difference between an advert on a billboard and one on my forehead – except I'll be earning money from it.”

Meanwhile, a second marketing firm, Comm-Motion, wants drivers to allow their car to be “wrapped” in the livery of a high-profile brand. Lindsay Kennard, marketing director, said the fee for covering a car in an advert could be up to £220 a month.

The Guardian


a Post-Reading Discussion

1. What reaction will you have to a person with a logo on his forehead?

2. Would you rent your forehead as a billboard?

3. How much would you do it for?

4. Will the idea of placing the ads in unusual places be developed?

5. What do you think about the car wrapping? Does it work? Have you ever seen any car ads? What are they?


a Follow up ideas

You need to find a variety of logotypes (company emblems) from the media. Each student goes to the blackboard and shows his/her logo with one student not looking at it. This student who doesn’t have any idea about the logo has to guess what the logo is and what company/ or product it belongs to. The rest of the group gives some hints concerning the logo without naming the company or the product itself (only its slogan, some characteristic features, the country to which this or that company/ or product belongs, etc.). The student whose hint was the best presents his/her logo, etc. Then the group votes on the one logo that best represents the product/company.



a Pre-Reading Tasks

I. What is the most unusual place on the human body to place advertisement on?

II. Match the following words and word-combinations with their definitions. Translate the words into Russian.


1. Sci-fi thriller a) a commercially sponsored advertisement on radio or television
2. Lead time b) to mouth (prerecorded words) on television or film
3. Lip-sync c) a series of short extracts from a film, used to advertise it in a cinema or on television
4. Flash animation d) a film, depicting crime, mystery, or espionage, that makes imaginative use of scientific knowledge
5. Commercial e) a film produced by photographing a series of gradually changing drawings, which give the illusion of movement when the series is projected rapidly
6. Trailer f) the time from the placing of an order to the delivery of the goods


In this world of ever-increasing advertising attacks, we now have a new medium: our own chests.

In the never-ending search to capture the attention of consumers bombarded by commercials, billboards and a massive attack of other advertisements the company Brand Marketers, headquartered in San Francisco, have launched the new gadget consisted of video screens and audio speakers embedded in T-shirts worn by models (pic. 2.15). Brand Marketers calls the program T-Shirt TV. The program is directed to display video ads on T-shirts. The digital billboards marked the launch of a new advertising vehicle. These portable video screens travel directly to consumers to deliver the advertiser’s message.

Video ads are placed on T-shirts worn by models in targeted public areas. Conventions, concerts, movie theaters, nightclubs, sporting events, malls and other locations and activities where people gather are targeted for the T-shirt screen campaigns. Consumers can be targeted by location and event. “Instead of expecting consumers to watch your television ad, you’re bringing it directly to them,” Hollander says. “If you have a movie project, it goes right to the movie theaters where the consumer is. Health product? Go right to the gyms. Retail, go to the shopping malls or hang out downtown. To target an audience for men’s deodorant, take the ad right to them at sporting events.”

Video, flash animation, stills, slide shows or a combination of media are displayed on an 11-inch (28 cm) screen on the T-shirt front. Four embedded speakers deliver sound.

Entertainment, specifically movie previews and music, are well suited for T-shirt TV. Medical, automobile, food and other consumer goods would also do well, Hollander says. “It also works for something custom. Imagine using it for an anti-smoking campaign and showing a video of inside the human body.” Tobacco ads won’t be accepted.

“You could put a TV show on it or have a weatherman doing a report with a weather map on his chest,” says financial director Adam Hollander. Shirts are available in a variety of colors with a variety of patterns on all non-screen surfaces. “An advertiser can do branding on the front, back and sleeves, like a regular T-shirt,” Hollander says.

T-shirt TV made its public debut on May 24, 2004 when Fox chose this new personal digital billboard concept to promote the upcoming sci-fi thriller starring Will Smith “I, Robot”.

Brand Makers do not sell their T-shirts but send Brand Ambassadors to attend the order. Lead time is three weeks. Factors that affect it are number of models wearing the video T-shirts, number of markets, and number of hours, Hollander says. T-shirts TV models wear the screen T-shirts in five-hour blocks. The number of days and length of these displays are flexible. “They can lip-sync to the audio or walk around and act like robots,” Hollander says. The company is looking at expanding overseas.

Pic. 2.16. T-shirt TV
Hollander says the T-shirts are especially effective with the TV generation. “This is a group of young people who have grown up with TV. If it’s not on TV, it’s not real. They don’t look at billboards. They certainly don’t read. They want moving pictures with audio.”

“The feedback has been very positive. People are fascinated with these human billboards. Crowds gather as T-shirt TV models stroll the boulevard. Besides the T-shirt TV models drew not only crowds but also TV news crews. “I think when you're looking for opportunities to stand out, the idea of someone who's got a T-shirt that's a monitor playing movie trailers[1] is really cool,” said Jeffrey Godsick, executive vice president marketing at 20th Century Fox. ... “People stop to watch the new media because it's just so unique.” Over the July 4th weekend we’re going to have them in theaters, malls, wherever people are out and about. That’s the great thing about these moving movie trailers. The more people who interact with them, the better.” – 20th Century Fox spokeswoman Florence Grace said.

There is much noise about the latest gadget, but this technology isn't ready for the masses yet. A T-shirt TV currently weighs about seven pounds (»three kilograms), takes ten minutes to put on, and costs about 2000 dollars (pic. 2.16). So don't count on seeing everyday people using these digital billboards for showing video ads on their chests.


a Post-Reading Activities

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