‘Easy’ Money – Feminists look away now

What is the weirdest platform for advertising that you’ve ever come across? One of the first ‘design’ books I bought was ‘Creative Advertising’, by Mario Pricken, and it is still one of my favourite to thumb through when I’m struggling for ideas and need some inspiration. Within its pages you’ll find groundbreaking ideas for the placement and implementation of advertising campaigns; however there is one, more recent technique, that wouldn’t be out of place in here. This week a new Japanese marketing technique has come to light in which women are given the opportunity to rent their legs out as advertising space.

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Now we all know that space in Japan is extremely valuable – with most of the country being mountainous, every area that can be transformed to an urban area has been and the affluence of the country means the cities are Japan’s hotspots. Buildings must be developed up rather than out and the Japanese are the leaders in making the most out of a small space. One brilliant example is this man who turned his 334ft apartment into 24 rooms through clever ways to change the spaces (see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-iFJ3ncIDo).
So the clever people at Absolute Territory PR have developed and implemented the idea of hiring out body parts as a new, innovative place to advertise products and services. If you can read Japanese or work out how to translate the page, you can check out Absolute Territory at http://www.zettaipr.com/.

When considering ad placement, one has to consider how much exposure the ad is going to get – how many people are going to walk past, how many people are going to notice it and, of course, will the advertising platform be enough to make it memorable? Ambient advertising (advertising in the environment) is clearly much more interesting than a print ad on a billboard and ads that move around make the viewer subconsciously work harder to see it and glean all the information that the advertisement offers.
Absolute Territory have found a potentially controversial place to advertise, a place where they think a lot of people will be looking, and they may well be right!

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Giving companies a ‘leg-up’ on their competitors, advertising on the legs of young Japanese girls is a unique idea working from the idea that ‘sex sells’. However distasteful the idea may be, something a little bit risqué and naughty will attract people’s attention and be memorable, so maybe Absolute Territory are onto something; this strategy is reported to already be popular with Tokyo businesses and I’m going to guess more male orientated companies will be at the front of the queue to sign up.

The criteria for those interested in earning some extra money by attracting attention to a label on their legs is that they must be over 18 years old and be connected to ‘at least more than 20 people on some social network’.

The work sounds easy enough, a girl who is employed in this way will have the ad ‘stamped on their leg’ and then left to get on with their day. To be paid they must wear the ad for at least eight hours a day, and it is recommended that they dress in high socks and a miniskirt, for maximum attention to be drawn to the legs and, of course, the advert (although this is probably the secondary thing that people will notice).  Proof must be provided of advertising through posting photos of them ‘at work’ onto social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It has been reported that around 1,300 girls are already registered to use their legs as ad space already, so is it just another easy way to earn some extra cash?

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Is this ethical practice though? On one side, this really is no different to a club promoting girls to stand around town or outside the club on a night out, wearing hotpants and a crop top emblazoned with the name of the establishment; the only difference is they are not advertising on their bare flesh. But those girls are still being paid to dress provocatively in order to attract customers, which is what Absolute Territory ask their girls to do in order to maximise exposure. But then dancers in clubs and, if we’re taking it to the extreme, prostitutes are also paid to sell their bodies in other ways, so where is the line? Models are also, to a lesser extent, paid for their bodies, although their advertising of clothes is focused on how the clothes are designed and hang from the body rather than the body being the first thing a person would notice.

What about looking at this from a feminist point of view? These girls are being paid to present their body as a thing to be looked at, a thing to provoke desire, even if it is for a product rather than the girl themselves. It’s clearly flattering to be desired but are these girls degrading themselves by presenting themselves as no more than a moving billboard?

On a lighter note, I’m not sure how Japanese advertising usually looks, but these advertisements on the girls’ legs often don’t seem obvious as to what they are. For example, if I walked past one of these girls in Leeds, I would probably assume that it was a tattoo rather than a ‘well-placed’ advertisement. Having said that though, I am a girl and wouldn’t pay too much attention to a scantily clad girl with an unsubtle tattoo on her upper thigh.

What do you think: Clever marketing or just another way to objectify young women?

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