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How willing are you to whore yourself?
January 15, 2002 10:16 PM   Subscribe

How willing are you to whore yourself? City buses have been doing it for years. Now an ad company is willing to give you a free car for two years if you're willing to drive a mobile billboard for them. Ideal candidates live in busy urban and suburban areas, park on the street, and get stuck in traffic all the time. You pay for insurance and gas, and they take care of the rest (including maintenance). Or have your current car wrapped with advertisements and get up to $400 a month. The company will also entice you with free concert tickets if you'll drive the vehicle to the show.

Through a long application process, they try to match ideal candidates with advertisers. They even let you suggest 5 companies you'd be willing to whore yourself for. But if you do decide to sign up, be aware: Not only are there 70,000 + applications ahead of you, and no guarantee that you'll be selected, according to the privacy policy, the ad company will use your detailed profile to sell more stuff to you.
posted by crunchland (32 comments total)

 
not only would I not drive these cars, I would probably fight the heavy temptation to spray paint angry one-liners upon the sight of one.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:37 PM on January 15, 2002


This kind of thing has been going on for a long time. This isn't anything new.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:43 PM on January 15, 2002


I'll admit it- I've applied to have my car wrapped with ads and have been on the waiting list for 8 months. Why? I'm a not-so-rich college student and need the money. Two months will pay for a years worth of books.

As for the whoring issue, is it really whoring? By this definition anyone who gets paid to further the intentions or influence of any entity is 'whoring'. Nearly everyone who is employed is 'whoring' for some entity. By this definition we are either 'whoring' or unemployed and lazy.
posted by ttrendel at 11:01 PM on January 15, 2002


Like SDB said, this isn't anything new.
posted by gluechunk at 11:04 PM on January 15, 2002


Why is this surprising, when people will already pay for the privilege of wearing clothes with advertisements on them?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:14 PM on January 15, 2002


I'd be willing to whore my car out like this for $30K a year, medical benefits and a free mechanic. I'd even smile and carry around bumper stickers to hand to anyone who asked me why a billboard fell on my Saturn.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:16 PM on January 15, 2002


What's more, if you're a farmer, you can whore out your barn. (Though fewer and fewer do.) Think of the ani-mullllllls. And Tommy Bartlett, the showman of the Dells, spread his fame far and wide through the simple expedient of affixing bumper stickers to every car in the lot while the owners were at the water show.
posted by dhartung at 11:32 PM on January 15, 2002


I signed up. I know, I know...but fuck it, maybe I'll get a Nascar-sponsored car or something like that..at least then there'd be a humourous metephorical connotation to it.

How about an ENRON car? Now, we're talkin!
posted by tiger yang at 12:01 AM on January 16, 2002


This is better than the alternative. Imagine driving around right, and you see a UPS type truck rolling down the street, with HUGE billboard ads on it's sides and back. While stareing intently at the sign while driving, the sign suddenly jumps to life, and quickly scrolls upward revealing a new ad. Now imagine it happening on 2 sides, you can see, at the same. Anyway as you may have guessed, yes, Be thank this has happened to me. Be thankful that you have ads on things that are normally seen on the road.

-d
posted by demannu at 12:23 AM on January 16, 2002


Imagine driving around right, and you see a UPS type truck rolling down the street, with HUGE billboard ads on it's sides and back.

Has anyone else noticed the huge ads on the sides of your local mail truck? Mine have eBay's Auction For America plastered on them. When did the US Postal Service start shilling their trucks for an online site?
posted by mathowie at 1:13 AM on January 16, 2002


I have an idea for a new soda drink. I'll pay anyone $500 to have the logo tattoed to their forehead.
posted by lucien at 1:54 AM on January 16, 2002


In the time it took me to read the thread, while the car wrappers' site was still in the background, I got *4* pop-under ads. And I'm a fast reader.

Talk about whoring.
posted by zpousman at 4:45 AM on January 16, 2002


How would I whore myself?

I'd like to do it for millions of dollars. Just like Tim Russert and John Stossel. Hey, if I'm gonna sell out it should be for infamy and fortune!

[practicing] Damn liberals! Impeach Clinton! Damned enviromentalists! Yeah {corporation}! [/practicing] :-)
posted by nofundy at 4:51 AM on January 16, 2002


As for the whoring issue, is it really whoring? By this definition anyone who gets paid to further the intentions or influence of any entity is 'whoring'. Nearly everyone who is employed is 'whoring' for some entity. By this definition we are either 'whoring' or unemployed and lazy.

No, no, I hate having only two choices -- instead, let's go back to Victorian days when really really proper people weren't supposed to have jobs at all. Let's make jobs SO 20th century.

I am sorry to confess that in the early 80s when the yellow pages people in Virginia were hiring people with VW bugs to drive around with their ads painted on the cars, I thought it was kind of cool. Now, I think it's cheesy and consumeristic. Such are the changes from youth to . . . . whatever phase I'm in now.
posted by JanetLand at 5:47 AM on January 16, 2002


When did the US Postal Service start shilling their trucks for an online site?

Somewhere between February and April.
posted by jheiz at 6:02 AM on January 16, 2002


Hey, lucien, pay me 500 bucks a month for as long as I have the tattoo, and you've got a deal.
posted by headspace at 6:03 AM on January 16, 2002


As a 21st century unemployed guy, JanetLand, it does feel like "jobs" were so very, very 20th C.

The "whoring" thing is, perhaps, a distraction. What's bad about it is not some vague "selling out", but that it adds to an already obvious social problem: the freakishly high saturation of the visual landscape with The Message to Buy. It'd be like like aggressive littering, more than prostitution. One doesn't have to be a raving anarchist to want a little moderation in this department. We can't expect businesses to restrain themselves -- if there's money to be made selling ad space on something, businesses are genetically wired to go for it. It doesn't take genius to figure out that the only way to keep everything from becoming a billboard is to treat the billboard-isation of our private lives (including the stuff we drive) as a laughably bad idea akin to making a few extra bucks by calling all of our buddies and asking them if they'd like to save money by switching to AT & T.

Hmmm...guess it's a little early to rant. Apologies.
posted by BT at 6:08 AM on January 16, 2002


I've seen a lot of those cars in New York City and the surrounding area. Some look cool, others look kind of silly. But it depends on your situation.

If I was single (or at least didn't have kids), I'd probably do it. It's a free car, plus getting paid. The first couple months you'd be a novelty, too.. it's probably a fit for more of the personality type of outgoing and extroverted as opposed to introverted people.
posted by rich at 7:01 AM on January 16, 2002


one thing that keeps a lot of futuristic movies from being totally authentic are the fact that you don't see ads as often as they would actually be appearing. when I think of the future, I imagine that surely every surface would be utilized in advertisements (roads, sidewalks, the curve of spoons, the ceilings over beds in hotels, etc.).
posted by mcsweetie at 7:11 AM on January 16, 2002


When we were in San Francisco last summer, we ate at a restaurant that offered free meals for life to anyone who came in with a tattoo of their mascot. I can't remember the name of the restaurant, tho.
posted by faceonmars at 7:21 AM on January 16, 2002


You know, the issue of whether or not you are whoring yourself out, to me, is secondary to the fact that when you apply for these sites, you have to give out a incredible amount of personal and demographic data. I signed up for one of these cars over a year ago from another company and have yet to hear back from them one way or the other. I check back every once in a while to find out if anything has changed, but even the web site stays pretty much static.

So, to recap:
You fill out personal information and give your opinions about dozens of companies.
You are given the option of entering your friends' e-mails address so that they can be in on this great deal too.
You are put on a huge list for a very limited number of cars.
You are told to check your account every day on the web site to see if you've been chosen.
To get to your account, you must view advertisements.
You will never get a car from them.

Sorry, sounds like a scam. I fell for it too, though.
posted by Hildago at 8:01 AM on January 16, 2002


I think the idea of whoring is that you'd do something for money that you would otherwise find distasteful. Generally, your job is something neutral or even appealing to you.

BT already said it well, so I won't repeat.
posted by mdn at 8:04 AM on January 16, 2002


What's the problem here? This would be, as ttrendel pointed out, a huge boon to college students who needed wheels but didn't have the cash (or needed the cash they did have to pay form something else). Or anyone else who could use it and didn't mind doing it.

Luckily, if you don't want to "whore yourself," no one's forcing you. I mean, realistically, having a job at all is the same exact thing. It would be nice to sit around smoking up all day, eating Doritos and thinking big thoughts, but if you want to have the common amenities, you have to go out and whore up some of that green.

That said, it comes the question of whether large amounts of advertising are "bad." BT calls it "... already obvious social problem: the freakishly high saturation of the visual landscape with The Message to Buy." But is it? A social problem? That assumes that there is something inherently wrong with being a consumer (there really isn't, and you can't really avoid being one). It also assumes that everyone feels the same way about advertising (they don't). Advertising does have benefits outside of convincing people to buy certain products - it also convinces people NOT to buy certain products (i.e. the "Truth" campaign, which though I personally disagree with is an excellent example of effective advertising), to inform consumers of their choices, and in the case we discuss here, it actually directly supports certain population segments that otherwise would suffer (in that they'd have less money and no car, in this case).

BT's obivous social problem is more of an aesthetic problem: billboards impinge his (and everyone else's) view of the sunset. BUT remember that local governments have the ultimate control over outdoor advertising. The town I live in has very strict regulations about how signage and billboards are handled (to wit: small for the former, and nonexistent for the latter). Because of this, my town does not attract a lot of commercial enterprise and, therefore, my property taxes are higher. But I choose to live here and pay those taxes, because my view of the sunset in unimpeded.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you have an aesthetic problem with advercars, you can choose not to drive one; if you have an aesthetic problem with billboards, you can choose not to live in a town that has liberal laws controlling them. It does not, however, make them a social problem. There is a lot of distasteful art in the world, but it is protected, and one can choose not to view it (you'll never catch me in the museum with that elephant dung picture). The road toward legislating aesthetics is frought with trouble.
posted by UncleFes at 8:11 AM on January 16, 2002


It's also frought with spelling errors :P
posted by UncleFes at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2002


If you are self employed or own a company, this would be a great way to write off your car payments. Maybe if you tattooed your own logo on your chest you could write of some medical bills as well.
posted by fakenamex at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2002


The whoring of our public schools to fast food advertisers (among others) is briefly discussed in this book and probably elsewhere too. The disturbing part is that the appaling disparity between "rich" and "poor" schools makes this necessary or at least seem necessary. There exist text books, like this one which are produced by the companies who are advertising and, of course, the books are covered with logos and product related ads intermingled with the text. sick. Look here for more reason to curb school whoreing.
posted by plaino at 8:48 AM on January 16, 2002


That said, it comes the question of whether large amounts of advertising are "bad." BT calls it "... already obvious social
problem: the freakishly high saturation of the visual landscape with The Message to Buy." But is it? A social problem?


UncleFes: The extent to which advertisement has infiltrated schools constitutes a social problem
posted by plaino at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2002


Whoring? Don't tell me you Americans are still confusing your cars with your bodies?

And, even if you do, since when do sex workers get paid to go about as they please, doing nothing except wear clothes with advertisements on them?

A little more respect for working girls and boys, please! (And a lot less for cars...)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:02 AM on January 16, 2002


I signed up. So far, all I got is a mailbox full of spam. With all the signups, it's easier to buy a lottery ticket. Your chances of winning are better.

If anyone actually finds a similar deal, where you sign up and you actually have a chance of being accepted, I'm all ears.
posted by Witold at 9:31 AM on January 16, 2002


the biggest problem these companies have is getting national advertisers to agree to a two-year contract. i'd be vastly impressed if freecarmedia had convinced the procter & gambles of the world to commit to paying drivers almost $10K a year over two years. with just 100 drivers, that'd be a million-dollar ad campaign!

also, two-years is not a natural length for an ad campaign... movies come out over several months, and i haven't seen many new products introductions that last over a year tops. i don't see the "free car" offer really going anywhere until someone solves this problem.
posted by kaname at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2002


faceonmars:

It *might* have been this one ... but I think they stopped doing it before last summer.

If you know of another -- let me know! I feel like I missed the free food train.
posted by fishfucker at 9:52 AM on January 16, 2002


That assumes that there is something inherently wrong with being a consumer (there really isn't, and you can't really avoid being one).

UncleFes: one word: "waste"
posted by kv at 11:38 PM on January 17, 2002


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