Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Ok, now I've seen nearly everything. Well, except a man eating his own head ... but I digress:
- "Newborn to be a casino billboard
Auction for ad space has unsurprising winner.
By Amy S. Rosenberg
Inquirer Staff Writer
A Web-based casino that likes to bid on weird stuff - like paying parents to name their baby after the company - was the (in retrospect, predictable) winner of a Langhorne woman's online auction to sell ad space on her newborn.
So for the month of July, Michele Hutchison will clothe her second child, Devon, due to arrive via cesarean section Tuesday, in logoed baby togs provided by GoldenPalace.com. Company representatives have already PayPal'ed her $999 and discussed clothing styles, Hutchison said.
Hutchison and her husband, John, will get a supply of bibs, onesies and other stuff, and GoldenPalace.com will get another wave of publicity, and a likely spike in Web-page hits, like the one that followed previous publicity stunts, such as paying a Connecticut mom $15,000 to name her baby 'GoldenPalace.com Benedetto.' (She's known as Goldie.)
The company has also successfully bid $10,000 to buy the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich (surely you've heard of it) and bought advertising on a woman's cleavage, both offered on eBay.
Yesterday morning, meanwhile, with news reports of her eBay auction reaching Scotland and South Africa, Hutchison, 26, posted a second auction to extend her baby-as-billboard scheme into the month of August (with the added headline: 'This auction is world famous!!!!'). The new auction ends June 10, three days after Hutchison expects to give birth to her already-revenue-generating progeny.
And by midday, GoldenPalace.com had put out a news release touting its 'sponsorship' of the Hutchison infant, comparing it to companies sponsoring a young Tiger Woods and referring to itself as the "Internet casino-turned household name."
"I think we are redefining the nature of sponsorship, branding and advertising in general," boasted chief executive officer Richard Rowe in the statement. "We are breaking new ground every day, it seems, and I think it is very possible there will be a chapter on GoldenPalace.com in students' marketing textbook someday."
Hutchison said yesterday she was untroubled by the gambling angle of the winning bidder. "I think it's great," she added. "It's a good deal for them. It's advertising cheaper than what it would cost. It's a thousand dollars for us and free clothes. I don't think anyone loses here."
Hutchison said she was supposed to receive e-mailed photos of the kind of clothing the company planned to send for her newborn. She says folks at the Caribbean-based gambling Web site promised they would clad her babe in nothing but the most stylish of onesies and other stuff as the family travels the Philly suburbs, Jersey Shore and Upstate New York in July.
"It's a pretty awesome company," Hutchison said helpfully. "They've been really great to us so far. They're sending us a bunch of clothing and hats and other accessories for the baby. They're sending my husband and me and my 5-year-old long-sleeve shirts and T-shirts and hats, all kinds of towels.
Hutchison's rules for the new auction are the same as for the first one: no drugs, no alcohol, no profanity, no sexual stuff - and no girly clothes for baby Devon.
The new listing also featured - without Inquirer permission - the photo of her that ran on the front page of Saturday's newspaper, plus links to more than 60 stories that ran over the weekend after the Associated Press picked up the story.
The ad trumpets: "My picture was on the front page so people now know who I am! Since then the story has been in newspapers all over the world! Any company would be crazy to pass up this opportunity since the story has been so publicized."
Yesterday, Hutchison said she expected much more interest in the August auction (GoldenPalace.com was the only serious bidder for the first one, though the ad drew 1,500 page views).
"I've had people all the way from Florida e-mail me and ask for [an additional auction]," she said. "The reserve is the same - a thousand. We're happy with that. It helps us."
Her ad has even given birth to copycats, including a Florida mom who yesterday posted an almost identical auction on eBay seeking a sponsor for her baby.
Hutchison said she has received very little negative feedback - her defense is that moms promote companies all the time for free by dressing their children in branded clothing for the Gap and the like. But she said she would never stoop so low as to name her baby after the casino.
"I would never do that. It's not an option. They could pay me a million dollars."
To see Hutchison's new auction go to eBay.com and enter the auction number "5586233504" in the search form."