Would you get a tattoo in homage of a favorite
brand? Plenty of
Google "brand logo tattoos," and you'll see a world of permanent product placement — including, wait for it, "Google" tattoos.
Brand apparel and wall art, even custom vintage cars, are some of the other ways fans manifest their devotion. But what drives someone to indelibly pledge his or her allegiance to a product in the flesh?
More Than Skin Deep
For Asa Cargill, who has a massive Coke bottle tattooed on his right arm, his connection to the company is more than skin deep. Cargill grew up in a family deeply devoted to the brand.
“Everything in my house
growing up was
Cargill was conceived in
Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where his parents were in town showing off their
Cargill’s tattoo is of a limited-edition Coke bottle with Candler’s name on the label. “I remember being a kid and seeing that label,” says Cargill. “I’ve always been a guy who gets tattoos that mean something to me.”
“It was an interesting tattoo, and it had a lot of meaning,” says Pallis Rupinta, the artist at All Aces Tattoo in Orange Park, Fla., who created the tattoo for Cargill.
“All people have their reasoning for getting tattoos, whether it’s aesthetic or something meaningful,” Rupinta, 32, says. “Some are more meaningful than others. Some just get it because it’s beautiful. Nowadays, it’s about art and self-expression.”
Tattoos for Tacos
Some tattoo fans find ways to cash in on their self-expression. Some companies offer perks for permanent logos, ranging from free tacos to discounted grilled cheese sandwiches. Such devotion can backfire; even if tattoos are forever, restaurants rarely are.
Hot Doug’s Encased Meat Emporium has for years offered an endless supply of hot dogs to those willing to get a tattoo of the restaurant’s friendly-looking wiener mascot. It was easy to imagine this particular restaurant had staying power, too: Bon Appetit named Hot Dougs one of the 50 best restaurants on the planet.
When owner Doug Sohn recently announced the demise of his beloved eatery, it was likely his tattooed fans who felt the most-acute pangs of regret. When Sohn took to Twitter to break the news, those fans were on his mind. “My friends, we'll serve our last encased meats 10/3,” he wrote. “We thank you for your support & suggest you don’t get a Hot Doug's tattoo any time soon.”
In a country where more than 45 million are tattooed, there’s plenty of money to be made on regret. A Chicago clinic has decided to offer half-priced tattoo removal for those stuck with a useful-only-for-nostalgia Hot Doug’s tattoo.
Identifying with an Icon
Since its creation in the late 19th century,
“With an older generation, it could be a World War II memory of a soldier getting a Coke in a bottle overseas while fighting during the war,” Ryan says.
Early on in the war, then-general Eisenhower
“More than 5 billion bottles of Coke were bottled
across Europe by temporary bottling plants, staffed by 165 Coke
associates," Ryan adds. When the war ended, the drink remained a
symbol of friendship in the ensuing years of optimism. In the 15 years after
the war, the number of countries bottling
A Unifying Concept
Nostalgia may drive the
Alain’s art depicts the classic glass Coke
bottle, hoisted in-hand as if to offer a toast. The iconic symbol, says Alain,
represents “friendship and sharing — a
A common symbol can create a simple but
powerful connection, even between those who might not typically agree with one
Ryan thinks a desire to share a piece of
something so universally iconic is what drives people to get the
And they're a part of that forever. Jodie Goodwin, who owns Black Widow Custom Tattoo and Design in Newfoundland, recently tattooed a
Coke bottle on a loyal client. "We both were equally excited to do the
tattoo because we are hard-core fans (of
Goodwin says people who get tattoos aren't intimidated by the notion of forever.
“I think that’s the very reason why they get tattooed," she says. "It's a passion or piece of art that they are proud to wear the rest of their lives.