One creative St Andrews student has come up with a new solution to pay his way through university. Chris MacRae, a third year, has decided to sell advertising space on his shirt, which he will wear every single day in the hope that the money raised will help cut down his student debt.
One month in, he has already sold eight ads and is in negotiations to sell more. His sponsors include local as well as national companies, though most of them so far have been start-ups, with the notable exception of Ladbrokes, the betting company. While most companies pay him directly for their advertisement, others have offered him free publicity or other things for ad space. Ladbrokes, for example, gave him a free bet.
Mr MacRae charges more for space on the front of the shirt than on the back or the sleeves. He charges £70 for the arms and back of the shirt, and has had companies pay between £150 and £250 for space on the front, though he hasn’t got a set price. He is allowing companies to make offers and then he deals with them from there. This strategy has already made £600.
H e thought of the idea while looking online. He heard of Jason Stadler, an American student who struck up a deal with several businesses: he would wear a t-shirt with a different business’s logo every day, then would go out and give the business more publicity. This eventually transformed into a company run by Mr Stadler called I Wear Your Shirt.
Mr MacRae also found articles on a pair of students in London who took it a step further, selling advertising on their faces. He decided that went a little too far for his taste: “I’m not quite crazy enough to do that.”
Mr MacRae wasn’t always so confident in his idea. He said: “When I first set out with it, I was a bit tentative with the idea.”
Fearing a low response, he created a form e-mail that he sent out to hundreds of companies. Ladbrokes was very quick to get back to him, so he sent the e-mail out to hundreds more. Mr MacRae joked that it was then that he thought: “I’m a genius! This is amazing!” When hundreds more of the same e-mail didn’t warrant the same response, however, he tried a different approach. “Since then, I realised that the best way to do it is to tailor an e-mail to a company.” He now believes that explaining how he can help that company in particular, and sending a picture of the shirt, are more effective ways of gaining business.
Mr MacRae’s new sense of style has not interfered with his current job as a bartender at the Students’ Union. His manager allows him to wear it while working, and he said that it was “probably the best publicity I’ve had.” He does think that his publicity is also creating a ‘snowball effect’ for interest in his business.
Mr MacRae did want to make one thing very clear: he does wash the shirt. He explained: “I do wash it. I am wearing it every day but I am washing it every night; I don’t wear it in bed, I don’t wear it in the shower.”