Monday, March 13, 2006

Woman Sells Ad Rights to Pregnancy on eBay

If the human body is the last frontier for advertising space, then St. Louis resident Asia Francis is helping chart new territory — the big, pregnant belly.

Francis, 21, auctioned off the advertising rights to her pregnancy on eBay. The winning bid of $1,000 went to a California Internet company, giving it exclusive rights to temporarily tattoo its brand-name on Francis's belly and broadcast the birth of her daughter live on the Internet. The baby is due any day.

The concept of a human billboard is hardly new.

Twenty-one year old Andrew Fischer of Omaha, Neb., earned more than $37,000 last year by bearing a corporate logo on his forehead for a month. Michele Hutchison of Lanhorne, Pa., auctioned ad rights for her baby's clothing on eBay last year, seeking $1,000 for a months' lease.

For big companies, the idea is simple. Do something outrageous or strange, grab some media attention and cut through the clutter of advertising messages that bombards consumers.

"It's a well-held theory in the advertising industry that the average person on the street receives up to 3,000 branded messages a day," said Floyd Hayes, whose New York advertising firm, Cunning Communications, specializes in media stunts.

The pregnant belly is prime real estate for auction because its likely to get people talking, Hayes said.

"If they were to buy the free coverage they will receive for this, it would cost them many times more the fee they paid the person," he said.



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