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Beyond the Biz

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As you finalize your media plan for next year, you're likely weighing the pros and cons of various media buys. Consider this: Human billboards sound like a fantastic idea-until they abscond. Last year, we reported that Dallas-based Web hosting company C I Host paid entrepreneur Jim Nelson $7,000 to tattoo its logo on to the back of his shaved head. Nelson agreed to keep the logo visible for at least 5 years, and to leave his home daily to ensure maximum exposure. (C I Host is no stranger to strange marketing tactics; the company recently announced that it would pay $10,000 to the first person who took or threw a punch in the Nov. 19 Pacers-Pistons debacle if that person agreed to permanently tattoo the C I Host logo on his fist. No one has stepped forward yet). Unfortunately, as of press time, Nelson seems to have disappeared. Kent Pingel of C I Host confirmed that the billboard had "gone missing." Pingel was not concerned, however. "Wherever he is, he's promoting the company," he said. Unless, as we pointed out, he has grown his hair out. But all is not lost: C I Host attributes 800 new clients to Nelson's tattoo, and was happy enough with the results that it may be announcing a second human billboard early next year. This time, however, the company should have an easier time keeping track of its billboard: It's looking for someone who will tattoo the C I Host logo on to his or her forehead.

NOW FOR A QUICK ROUND OF "JEOPARDY!" This ad agency and its shipping client, in characteristically clever fashion, have proved their keen sense of comic timing yet again. If you guessed "Who are BBDO New York and FedEx?" you're in luck. Three days after software engineer and "Jeopardy!" phenom Ken Jennings ended his 74-show winning streak by asking "Who is FedEx?" the shipping company ran an ad in USA Today capitalizing on Jennings' error. The ad's headline reads: "There's only one time FedEx has ever been the wrong answer." The copy follows: "Congratulations Ken Jennings on your amazing Jeopardy! winning streak. And thanks for mentioning our name. Even if it was the one time you shouldn't have. For all the right answers to your shipping needs, go to fedex.com." The correct question to the answer that stumped Jennings-"Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year"-was "Who is H&R Block?" Now, if we were going to be obnoxious, we would point out that in this case, FedEx was technically the wrong question, not the wrong answer. But we like the ad so much we'll hold our tongue.

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO THROW YOUR OWN PARTY, especially if it's for your 331/3 anniversary. Last month, Wichita, Kan.-based advertising agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink celebrated that anniversary-the agency was founded in July 1971-by operating its own radio station for 331/3 hours starting on Nov. 15. Broadcasting from WSHS radio on 103.3 FM, SHS chose to play only one song continuously, without commercial interruption: "Get it On," the T. Rex hit from the "Electric Warrior" 331/3 rpm LP, released in 1971. The whole process was fairly simple and inexpensive, according to Lathi de Silva, corporate communications manager for SHS. Because the broadcast was noncommercial in nature, it didn't require a license. SHS simply purchased a transmitter for about $500, installed it on the agency's roof and, voila, everyone within a 3/4-mile radius of the agency could tune in. De Silva credited SHS VP-Creative Director John January with the idea. Each year, January hosts a Halloween party for about 350 people and transforms his home into a haunted house. For the two weeks preceding Halloween, he broadcasts details about the event on his own radio station. As for the song choice, "[SHS Managing Partner] Joe Norris is a huge music fan and just went back to the archives and decided he needed something that was memorable but also slightly annoying," de Silva said. 

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