Friday, April 1, 2005

Lisa Marloralready had two jobs when she decided to get into the advertising business — as a human billboard.

For $1,000, a company can have its message displayed for two weeks on the 36-year-old West Virginian’s forehead or stomach. She is among thousands of Americans who are offering parts of their bodies as advertising space to companies through temporary tattoos.

Ever since Andrew Fischer, a Web-page designer from Nebraska, received $37,375 in January to proudly wear SnoreStop’s red logo on his head, everybody from aircraft mechanics to real estate agents have been itching to stamp their flesh with ink.

“You only live once,” Miss Marlor said. “It’s time for a change.”

Miss Marlor decided to brand her body after taking a class about online auctions. She started thinking about different ways to market and stumbled across

The two-month-old company from Vancouver, Wash., connects advertisers with body parts.

Miss Marlor said she preferred a temporary tattoo on her belly or brow, but that she was willing to get a permanent mark on her arm, ankle or back.

Ideally, Miss Marlor wanted a tattoo that represented a weight-loss company, such as Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, because she was trying to drop a few pounds.

But in the end, she just craved ink.

“The more colorful the better,” she said.

Although her picture has been on only for the past few weeks, she has received no offers.

The company has received more than 3,000 requests to tattoo everything from brows to breasts, but only about 10 people have contracted for tattoo advertisements.

“It may just be a dying fad,” said general manager Brandon Brice.

But he hopes not.

“We’re hoping that it’s going to take off,” Mr. Brice said. “In the future, companies are going to look at this as one of the more beneficial ways [to advertise]. You may see a truck drive by with an ad on the side. … You may see that ad. You may remember that ad. But when you see a tattoo on the cheek or forehead, it makes you stop to look.” is one of several businesses that have popped up in just the past few months to connect companies with body parts.

Among the more famous companies is Belly Up Advertising, which matched eight-months pregnant Elise Harp of Georgia with The online casino paid Mrs. Harp $8,800 to temporarily tattoo its Web address on her rotund belly.

Although their products vary, the companies are seeking to unchain themselves from advertising routine.

“The traditional way of advertising has been around for centuries,” Miss Marlor said. “[But] like most people, I flip through the newspaper unless something particular catches my eye. I’m usually refilling my coffee or going to the bathroom break during commercials on TV.”

But body ads don’t take breaks.

“I would be wearing this ad 24/7,” Miss Marlor said. “Whoever crosses my path will have no choice but to look because it’s new and certainly different. We can’t help but tell people what we’ve seen walking through the store or on [the] boardwalk or through Disney World. Word of mouth is a number one seller.”

EBay, the online marketplace with more than 40 million products that helped Mr. Fischer sell his forehead to SnoreStop, was more skeptical.

Spokesman Hani Durzy said that out of EBay’s 135 million merchants, he knows of about four other people besides Mr. Fischer who have posted pictures of themselves on the company’s Web site as potential advertising space.

“The entire idea is an incredibly rare thing,” Mr. Durzy said. “It’s far from the truth that we’re being overwhelmed by a wave of people offering to advertise on their bodies.”

But he still chuckles at those who are.

“It’s a little strange, but we kind of like that,” Mr. Durzy said. “It doesn’t represent the majority of what is used on EBay, but we get a kick out of it. It shows in some way the fun-loving nature of the EBay community, a willingness to do new, unusual things.”

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