Two British graduates have discovered a novel way of paying off their student loans. They rent out their faces to advertisers and paint them with company logos. And the scheme is paying off.
The introduction of university tuition fees in Britain has created a generation of heavily indebted students. Take Ross Harper and Ed Moyse: By the time they'd reached their last year at university they'd clocked up 60,000 euros ($80,000) of student debt between them and they wondered how they would ever pay it off. Then they decided to use their heads and came up with a wizard plan.
The two guys launched BuyMyFace.co.uk, a website offering a personal advertising service - really personal.
“Companies can literally buy advertising space on our faces,” says Ross. “We then paint whatever they want, like a message or logo, onto our faces.”
They wear the advertisement for a day at a cost of around 480 euros. Ed says both his and Ross' faces have to be rented out together. “But you can put different things on different parts of our faces if you like,” he adds. “So you can have a logo on my cheek and then you can write your website on Ross' forehead.”
This is not just billboard advertising in the flesh. Ed and Ross don't just walk about in public showing off their painted faces. They say they're providing viral advertising. The two guys photograph themselves and post their images on their website. Visitors can then click on the image which takes them through a hyperlink to the advertiser's website.
Taking the plunge
One of their biggest sponsors is the accountancy firm Ernst & Young. The company's head of recruitment marketing, Jane Robinson, said she liked Ed and Ross' entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic and what they were doing to get out there and pay off their student debts. Ed and Ross have really taken the plunge with Ernst & Young. They've abseiled from the ninth floor of the company's offices.
This is definitely not a desk job. Ed and Ross lead pretty active lives with their advertisers picking up the bill. They've been skiing, skydiving, go-carting and even went to the Royal Opera House in London with their faces painted.
Ed and Ross concede, though, that the face ads do constrain their social lives a bit. A romantic evening isn't easy when your face is emblazoned with an ad for potato chips. But Ed says it's been worth the sacrifice. "The graduate job climate in the UK is really tough at the moment, “ he says. “Lots of our friends have been applying for jobs and getting rejected.”
Like all entrepreneurs, the pair are already thinking about expanding their business - spreading their idea across the face of the earth, so to speak. People from all around the world have contacted them to ask if they can also sell advertising space on their faces. So Ross and Ed are hoping to launch a franchise in the next few months.
Overburdened with debt some people resort to denial, burying their heads in the sand. Ed and Ross have done the exact opposite - they've faced up to their debts and it seems to be working. So far they've paid off more than half their student loans.
Author: Stephen Beard / hs
Editor: Joanna Impey