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Tattoo marketing – innovative or degrading?

Tattoo marketing seems to be a new and emerging trend, with more big companies paying people for a permanent space on their bodies as if they’re human billboards. 

Tattoo marketing is a bit like when companies hand out free products like T-shirts or backpacks with their logos imprinted on them, except this time, the logo stays. Permanently. No amount of soap can get rid of it. The only option you have is laser tattoo removal, a procedure that takes months and money.

The matter is prominent enough that even Canberra Raiders star winger, Sandor Earl, added a full-colour (temporary) tattoo of Huawei’s logo on his right thigh as a clever April Fool’s Day joke. While it was convincing enough for me to fall for it, it does bring light upon a wider global pattern where more and more brand evangelists are going to radical lengths to show their loyalty towards a brand.

It’s hard to understand whether this is a new innovative form of marketing, or whether people are just agreeing to sell their bodies for advertising. And even if it is the latter, it may not necessarily be a bad thing.

There are a few brands out there that have an almost cult-like following. Technology company, Apple, is one of the best examples of that. They’ve done an exceptional job at creating a lifestyle image, so much that we even hear remarks like that of Australian comedian, Ronny Chieng, who humorously pointed out that eventually we are all going to become the iPhone 10. It won’t be a device that we will use, but one we will become. Cyborgs of the Apple Millennium.

For whatever reason, there are consumers out there who are willing to go to extreme lengths to show brand loyalty – whether through blogging about a company regularly, camping outside a shop 24 hours before a product launch or getting their bodies inked with a company’s logo.

BusinessDictionary.com defines brand loyalty as, “The extent of the faithfulness of consumers to a particular brand, expressed through their repeat purchases, irrespective of the marketing pressure generated by the competing brands.”

If people have no issue with selling a permanent space on their bodies for a brand, then companies may as well jump on board and mark their territories. It may play out to be the new norm, the way social media has become for marketing and building brand loyalty today.

While I may believe that tattoos should express something personal, there are people out there referring to their iPhones and iPads as their ‘baby’, so perhaps tattooing a brand’s logo onto your body might be less radical and more sentimental than I thought.

In light of this new and emerging marketing trend, companies could benefit from finding lifelong brand advocates. Obviously, there will need to be something on offer, because everything has a ‘give and take’ element to it, but that level loyalty is indispensable.

According to The Cult Branding Company, “… a brand’s outliers—their most outrageous fans and radical customers—are the people with whom marketers should engage, talk, and most importantly, listen.”

“Although tattooing brand logos and imagery may seem too extreme to marketers, these outliers represent a brand’s choir. These radical customers understand your business on a deeper, more meaningful level than marketers.”

The article goes on to explain that brand tattoos send a message to consumers that they belong to a meaningful community; create a powerful recall cue of the memories or other positive associations they’ve had with the brand; and create a permanent physical connection between the customer and the brand.

The rest of us skeptics can stare in awe and wonder what on earth is happening to the world.

Tasnuva Bindi

Tasnuva Bindi

Tas is a journalist at Dynamic Business. She has a passion for visual and performance arts, feminist politics, and animal rights. In her spare time she likes to paint, write poetry, and read courtroom drama novels.

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