Chris Barrett and Luke McCabe paid for their college education by offering their lives up for sponsorship. In 2005, Alex Tew started The Million Dollar Homepage and sold a million bucks worth of ads on a page that was nothing but ads. Last year a web developer tried to sell his name for $250,000 -- he didn't quite make it but still found a buyer for 25 grand. Most recently, Luke Livingston has started Sponsor My Loans in an effort to pay off his student loans -- in $200 monthly increments.In 2000,
There have been numerous examples of this sort of advertising scheme in the past, where advertising is sold on the premise that the method of advertising is so unique or wacky that it will garner mainstream press attention just for being sold -- and thus make the ads themselves worthwhile. But how long can that keep working?
Apparently, the market is still strong for selling ads based on future press coverage about your ad sales. Livingston has already scored press at TheStreet.com, Young Money Magazine, and The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and lined up sponsors through May. (He's also gotten press on this blog -- yes, I realize the irony here.)
There appears to be such a market for wacky ads, that a site like Body Billboardz, a marketplace for people willing to sell ad space on their bodies, currently has nearly 50 people willing to sell themselves to corporations.
I'm somewhat amazed that these advertising schemes keep working. And it's hard for me to believe that the ads really garner any sort of return for the companies that place them -- this is about as untargeted as you can get in advertising, and the people visiting these sites are really more interested in marveling at the tremendous luck of the people behind them then at checking out the companies willing to put up the cash for advertising. But as Livingston says in his press release, "Hey, it's worth a shot, right?"