Oct. 5 - Two Cambridge graduates have successfully paid off their university debt by renting their faces for advertising messages and a new advertising campaign by Benetton called ''Unemployee of the Year'' is seeking to highlight the plight of young people without jobs. But can these unlikely campaigns actually help shift merchandise? Hayley Platt reports.
Finding a job these days, even with a university degree, isn't easy. But graduates, Ross Harper and Ed Moyse decided to set up their own business to help pay off combined debts of $80,000. The pair have been renting out their faces to sell advertising. They then publish photos of the cheeky mini-billboards to BuyMyFace.com. So far they've had 20,000 hits and more than 150 clients have signed up for the service. Ross and Ed say they're now debt-free. SOUNDBITE: Ed Moyse, BuyMyFace.com, saying (English): "BuyMyFace was a 1 year project, just me and Ross but it still might be interesting for one more year perhaps as a story of those students around the world with these debt problems are now painting their faces." SOUNDBITE: Ross Harper, BuyMyFace.com, saying (English): "What I really hope to do is perhaps to inspire other young people to to just give it a go because now the job market is really difficult, now is the best time, because what are the other options." This might be one of them. Italian retail giant Benetton has just launched a new advertising campaign called 'Unemployee of the Year'. It's highlighting the plight of young people out of work - a growing problem especially in Europe. Greece has the highest unemployment rate in the euro zone. There one five are out of work - half of which are youths. And it's a similar picture in Spain. Benetton is asking the world's 100 million young people to come up with ideas on how to solve the ailing global economy. One hundred people will be awarded 5 thousand euros each to pursue their pet projects. Allessandro Benetton is the company's chairman. SOUNDBITE: Allessandro Benetton, Chairman, Benetton, saying (English): "It's a tiny thing, I don't pretend we can change the world. I don't pretend we can do anything. But if one day I find out that other companies do something practical like we do I will be happy." The contest to pick a so-called 'Unemployee of the Year' lasts until mid-October. Media analyst Daniel Knapp from IHS Screen Digest says its a savvy sales technique, but is unlikely to have a major impact on the problem it's addressing. SOUNDBITE: Daniel Knapps, media analyst, IHS Screen Digest, saying (English): "We have to bear in mind that advertising is not done for characterive purposes but for the purposes of raising money and brand awareness and while it is a good idea, it is new, it is interesting and engages an audience, it really relates to people, I think the effect on unemployment are really only secondary considerations in this campaign in the first place." Whatever the lasting impact of these campaigns, each demonstrates that even in tough times there will always be someone willing to buy a creative pitch. Hayley Platt, Reuters.