Forget television and radio spots, print ads and those pesky Internet pop-ups. The latest in advertising is right under -- or in this case over -- your nose. Meet the human billboard.
Last month, Andrew Fischer, 20, of Omaha offered primo ad space on EBay -- his forehead. The winner would design a temporary tattoo to be branded onto Fischer's brow for all to see for a month's time.
"As I go around town doing my thing ... your domain name will be plastered smack dab on my 'noggin," Fischer said in his EBay listing, dubbing himself "average Joe."
The winner of Fischer's forehead, Westlake-based Snore- Stop, which manufactures snoring remedies, couldn't be more excited about the advertising opportunity.
"I saw him on 'Good Morning America' and then, bam! I said, 'I need to have that guy,' " Snore- Stop Chief Executive Christian de Revel said.
Revel forked over $37,375 to Fischer for him to sport the big red letters of the SnoreStop logo on his forehead, with "It simply works" right below it in black text.
Now, Fischer is known as "the forehead guy." Last week, after advertising on his website, www.humanadspace.com, he found a new client, the online casino Goldenpalace.com, which paid $5,101 for a temporary spot on his forehead.
Fischer is one of a growing number of people around the country and in Canada who are offering temporary or permanent advertising space anywhere on their bodies for the right price.
The forehead is the most popular place for these ads because of its unavoidable visibility and oddness factor that demands attention. Other popular body parts: arms and hands, and the stomach of a pregnant woman.
Tattoo advertising is just one part of a growing trend of placing ads everywhere, including the sanitation disk holders in urinals and the bottom of a hole on a golf course, said Jim Ellis, a dean at USC's Marshall School of Business. "It's kind of the ultimate ad -- the human body," he said.
Trovon Moore, a 24-year-old electrician in Washington, D.C. who was getting his third tattoo recently at Grafixx Tattoo, said he wouldn't want to be a "24-hour commercial."
"A tat is supposed to mean something in your brain," Moore said. "I can look at what I'm going to get today every day and say, 'Yes, this represents me.' "
But SnoreStop is thrilled with its investment in Fischer's forehead. On the day SnoreStop won the auction, its website received five times as many visits, and since then Web sales of the product have also shot up five times. Revel reports that in-store sales are up by 50% as well.
SnoreStop has also since been approached by about 150 Andrew Fischer-wannabes, each offering marketing ideas as diverse as permanently changing their name to "Mr. SnoreStop" for the same money the company paid Fischer or serving as SnoreStop's foreign forehead correspondent.
"I'd like to offer you Canada," Tony Devlin, of Ottawa told Revel in an e-mail, requesting $5,000 a month for his services.
Sorry, Tony -- Canada is already covered. A Vancouver company, TatAd.com, launched in November and has already expanded to the U.S. with about 1,000 members (SnoreStop however isn't one of them). TatAd.com serves as a middle man between sponsors who want to slap their logo in permanent tattoo form on someone's body and the people eager to sell themselves as human billboards.
Members of the site create profiles in which they post not only personal information but also company logos they'd specifically like to get tattooed on themselves, and where they'd be willing to have the tattoo.
"We don't want to go slapping tattoos all over Joe Schmo," TatAd.com's CEO Kyle Johnston, 21, of Vancouver, said. "We want to turn this into an effective means of advertising."
So far, TatAd.com has been involved in the purchase of three tattoos, all on people who were fond of the trademark being placed on their bodies.
Aside from the growth of tattoo ad space companies, Fischer's payout has resulted in a slew of EBay copycats.
They include salesman Joe Tamargo, 31, of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., who's headed a business venture banking on his EBay notoriety, and failed auctioneer Chad Lawrence, 28, of Hot Springs, Ark., who hasn't been able to sell space on his body, even with a one cent starting bid, and even after re-listing his EBay auction three times.
"I thought it might be a really easy chance for me to make some money to help my family out," said Lawrence, who offers space on his right arm. Lawrence said he would use whatever money he earned to pay for the medical costs from his son's birth and early illnesses.
Others are out to make some major cash.
Tamargo, who garnered 15 minutes of fame from his relatively early EBay auction that placed PillDaddy.com and SaveMartha.com (as in jailbird Stewart) permanently on his right arm, saw this new phenom as the perfect business opportunity. He now has nine sponsored tattoos, which earned him a total of $13,110.