Here's the deal: free equipment in exchange for corporate flesh art

Packet Rat
R. Fink


Here’s the deal: free equipment in exchange for corporate flesh art


The Rat recently stumbled across a news item that set his mental wheels spinning. A
taco restaurant chain in San Francisco is giving away a lifetime of free lunches to
customers who get tattooed with the restaurant’s logo.


So far, about 40 people have submitted to having their epidermis permanently decorated
with an image of a boy in a mariachi suit, riding a flaming corncob.


It’s just more evidence to prove R. Fink’s 10 percent-3 percent rule: No
matter how stupid something is, at least 10 percent of people will fall for it. And at
least 3 percent of them will do so knowing how stupid it is.


Tattoos have made a minor comeback with the nose-ring set. Now that the shock value of
glow-in-the-dark implants has faded, the tattoo seems, well, nostalgic. But there’s
no way the Rat would get himself needled and inked just for a daily burrito, even if it
did come with a soft drink and a side of rice and refried beans.


He could, however, be persuaded to do so for a free PC, depending on who gave it to
him.


Let’s face it. Some computer users are so fanatical about their favorite systems
they would accept a tattoo even without a free computer. Recalling some of the things he
saw on bodies at the LinuxWorld trade show recently, the whiskered one is betting that a
simple hardware logo would not be that big a step for some.


If Apple Computer Inc. were to offer free G3 PowerBooks to the first 10,000 people to
get themselves inscribed, the whiskered one feels sure Mrs. Rat would accept a tasteful,
color-coordinated Apple logo.


The cyberrodent is considering a new beneficial proposal for his agency: Strike a deal
with PC makers to get free systems for all federal employees willing to be tattooed with
the companies’ logos. It could save the government millions while giving vendors a
valuable advertising vehicle.


There are quite a few ways to apply his proposed digital ink program. Just think of all
the organizations where tattoos are fairly prevalent—the Army, the Navy, the Marines,
the IRS.


What leatherneck would refuse a blazing red Compaq Computer Corp. logo across
his biceps? What Gen-X sailor wouldn’t kill to have the Sun Microsystems Inc. banner
with Java-like animation effects all over his back?


The program would guarantee better warranty support for agency systems. Otherwise, off
comes the ink. There’s nothing like the threat of a bill for 25,000 laser skin
surgeries to keep those upgrades and on-site support calls coming.


To get more exposure—literally—makers could tie the level of system delivered
to a tattoo’s location.


A Dell Computer Corp. logo across the back of the hand might be worth a Celeron PC with
32M of RAM, whereas a logo across the forehead might deserve an eight-way symmetric
multiprocessing machine with 4G of RAM and a terabyte of storage.


Just think what it could be worth to employees who shaved their heads and had a logo
tattooed across the whole scalp, complete with implants resembling Universal Serial Bus
ports.


Computer vendors like to defray their advertising costs through comarketing programs.
So in the end, Intel Corp. would probably get to put its logo around employees’
navels.


“Brings a whole new meaning to ‘Intel Inside,’ ” chortles the
Rat. 


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.



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