Confidential to any woman who wants a giant tattoo of a dragon on their backs: Hachette Australia wants to use your precious flesh as advertising for the latest book in the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson. The good news: free tattoo. The bad news: you’d be participating in something literally called “tat-vertising.”

As The Verge points out, Hachette’s open call for a willing tattoo model is not the first time the book industry has tried to revolutionize itself through rebranding and creative advertising (that doesn’t always work out), but this type of ad is much more intense than a social media campaign. In fact, a stunt like this hasn’t been done in years because of its permanence (and also because, according to The Verge and everyone else, tat-vertising jumped the shark after a woman got goldenpalace.com tattooed on herself for $10,000).

So why is Hachette posting an open call for a woman to have her back tatted up over eight hours and two days full of work as opposed to just using henna or photoshop? Well, it’s the authenticity they’re going for. Lisbeth Salander, the highly unlikable protagonist of the Dragon books, wouldn’t get a temporary tattoo, so why shouldn’t an actual person live up to the same standards as a fictional character that doesn’t exist? And, unlike the woman who got 10 Gs for the Golden Palace debacle, the person getting inked for this ad won’t be getting paid in money, she’ll be getting paid in prestige and exposure.

From The Verge:

The representative also explained that the compensation for the woman who is cast would be something... less than monetary: “This campaign is an opportunity to give a truly passionate fan a free tattoo that is unique to a strong literary character.”

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I would tell you that this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, but the world continues to surprise me every day. Who knows, tomorrow Hachette might be asking someone for a kidney in order to advertise a mystery series they’re really excited about.

It is, of course, possible that the actual advertisement is the ad itself and that Hachette isn’t planning to tattoo anyone at all, choosing to gain publicity by being mocked far and wide for this idiotic move. The company does, however, have a website inviting women to apply for the project and asking applicants to explain why they want a dragon tattoo in 255 characters or less. But don’t apply, the website says, if you don’t think you can handle it.


Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com.

Image via Sony Pictures