If you happen to see two students strolling the school with tattoos smack in the middle of their foreheads in the next two weeks, don't be alarmed. Stop and chat. That, after all, is the key concept behind Skin Deep Advertising, a company formed by five Haskayne students who tackled their entrepreneurship assignment head on.
"A man on ebay received $37,000 for advertising [on his forehead]," explained Skin Deep co-founder Amber Churcott. "We thought that if this guy could do it, then there would be some companies or charities out there interested in advertising on a University of Calgary student."
Although they considered several clients, including Cowboys night club and a gambling website, Skin Deep opted to advertise for Canadian Blood Services, hoping to spread their life-saving message across campus.
"I think this will increase awareness, it's like a talking advertisement," said Churcott. "If you look at a poster you'll see 'donate blood' but you won't really think twice. But if you see somebody with that on their forehead you'll be inclined to spark a conversation with them."
Matt Chow and Nolan Drew are the two students you'll be sparking conversations with. While their henna tattoos are temporary, their passion for the need to donate blood is not. Both are members of Youth Donors of Canada, an affiliate of Canadian Blood Services.
"It's our member, Matt Chow, who's actually getting his head tattooed," proudly explained fellow Youth Donor Shane Sealy.
Meanwhile, his friend lay sprawled across a lunch table in MacEwan Student Center amidst a crowd of gawking onlookers, with a tattoo artist diligently plying his trade on Chow's forehead.
"This month we're holding our biggest event of the year, the Bloody Cup Challenge," added Sealy. "It's a faculty challenge between Business, Science, and Engineering, from [March] 14-24. We're hoping to get a lot of people out to donate during that time, and this is just one of the ways to promote donating blood and getting people to know about our club and the Bloody Cup. General awareness is the most important thing right now."
With only three per cent of the eligible population actually donating blood, the need for increased awareness is definitely out there.
"We have an aging population in Canada, so we're going to be needing more blood in the coming years," said Communication Specialist for Canadian Blood Services Doris Kaufmann. "The donors themselves are also aging and won't be able to give indefinitely. So we do target youth."
What better way to target youth than setting a living advertisement loose on a university campus?
"[Skin Deep Advertising] approached us with this awesome, awesome idea, and sometimes grass roots marketing actually is a really cool way to attract attention," said Kaufmann. "The level of donations do fall off in the mid-twenties. There's a low number of individuals that are donating. [University students] are exactly the target audience we're trying to reach, and this is a hot way of doing it."