Skinvertising: making publicity out of tattoos

The marketing tendency that involves tattoos


This is an ad spot… but on the skin!

You have read well, skinvertising is a tendency in which the body is used as a marketing tool to promote brands.

How?, well, by getting slogan or logos of your favourite brands tattooed in your skin.

Weird, right?, let’s see what this is all about...

Using the human body as an advertisement

Countless times, we have heard that tattoos can symbolize deep aspects of people, but this might not be the case.

The way in which brands decide to promote nowadays is too different from the ads we were used to watching.

People’s influence on the Social networks have given companies new possibilities of advertising in a more direct way, and most significantly, with lower budget.

Tons of merchandising has been produced, and even renown brands such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s have many fans across the world who would be willing to take their logos everywhere… in their skin!

What is

This word is a merging neologism between ‘skin’ and ‘advertising’, for what it literally means publicity over skin.

It appeared in the early 2000s, and begun as a rumoured new idea for promoting companies.

With no question, the purpose of these tattoos is to create sensation and impact on anyone who sees it. It is an additional tool that some brands started using a while ago, although it has not ceased to bring polemic.

Publicity typically intends to call people’s attention with something extravagant to gain greater visibility. So, it is logical that some brands have joined this extreme tendency to sell their products.

Consequently, many people have also become part of it by deciding to lend their body as an ad space, letting aside the design's look, and not even thinking about the body area involved. Let’s go deeper in the topic.

Why would someone get a tattoo of a brand logo?

Most probably you’ve been wondering this since the beginning of this post, why would a person be willing to have a company logo tattooed for life?, isn’t it rare?

Actually, we could feel the same way about people getting their favorite music band logo and not judge it at all. Point is, there is such a consumerism behind brands that carrying them on our bodies seems like too much.

There are people who do not care much about the meaning of their tattoos, and get them simply because. That’s why, some fanatics do this for mere own motion.

But, as in any advertisement, there is no such thing as ‘free’, and interest is always in the middle. The first one who got a tattoo of this kind was Jim Nelson in 2003, when the internet enterprise CI Host paid him 7,000 USD for having a tattoo of their logo in his neck.

Along Jim came many more people tattooed by different companies’ income, as it was the case of Karolyne Smith, who literally got in her forehead!

The lady gained approximately 10,000 USD from the Casino company, which apparently helped her paid her children’s fee.

Billy Gibby was another known case. After losing his job and almost becoming homeless, he decided to sell his body to several companies through skinvertising.

He even got the PornHub logo tattooed in his face!

He got to raise £17,000 with his tattoos. But nowadays, he has started the process of removing them with laser.

However, he took a step forward and changed his name to “Hostgator Dotcom” referring to the website, and obviously cashing it in!

Here’s another case. A group of Russian friends got tattoos of the Domino’s Pizza logo, and in return, received a price of 100 free pizzas per year… for 100 years!

It’s clear why many more people decide to join this new… opportunity? As questionable as it may seem, we cannot ignore the fact that it’s a useful marketing strategy.

Truth is, getting paid for having tattoos is a beneficial practice for many. But this practice is not for everyone, nor for all companies, as it could go against the brands’ values.

Even so, there are those corporations who still practice it. Amazing, right?

Something to mention is that, as there's no such real control on who watches this ad over a person’s body… many brands prefer to invest in real fans or followers, as a way to preserve their audience and motivate them to buy the product.

How to get paid for

You might be wondering how you can make money out of this… A few years ago, the company Lease Your Body, which was funded in 2005, offered itself as a main platform to the applicants, who were able to win from 200 to 1500 USD, but this service is no longer available.

Another website for this is eBay, yes, the same you use for personal use. Believe it or not, plenty of people choose this C2C (costumer to costumer) platform to promote themselves online for being tattooed in exchange for money.

Fiverr, the platform created by Payoneer to help freelances sell online what they do across the globe, is also used for this purpose.

These are some options, but you can always turn to social networks, and if you have a significant number of followers, perhaps you have more chances of having a company interested in investing on you.

Although you should know that most of the companies don’t cover tattoo expenses, nor transfer, neither aftercare. The best would be to let them know if you want an extra pay for that, to avoid loosing money and assuring that it’s worth the tattoo.

skinvertising actually work?

It is certainly a cheap and controversial way of promoting products and increasing sales for brands.

What really catches the eye is the fact of permanently having a brand logo tattooed in the skin.

Maybe the shock and awe of encountering someone with a tattoo of a brand make it work because it’s something out of the ordinary that could create brand recall.

Probably they are seeking people to ask themselves, why did he tattoo that?, is she a fan?, is it such a good brand to go that extreme?, what is that brand?, what does that tattoo mean?

What we sure know is that what these companies look when hiring people is to publicize their name through a living and controversial advertisement.

Would you do a commercial tattoo?

Having a clear idea of what you would tattoo and what you 'definitely wouldn't' is crucial to establish yourself as a tattoo artist.

Need a hand? Take a look at our professional tattooing courses.