If you need a cheap but effective global marketing strategy for your company you need to look no further than eBay.
The internet has given us viral marketing, where we let electronic word of mouth spread our marketing message.
Now, the rapidly evolving micro-biological life-form known as electronic marketing has evolved an new strain, which as its discoverer I will name "eBay Marketing".
Perhaps a better name might be "e-sanity marketing" as it relies on dreaming up some preposterous proposition and auctioning it on eBay.
We are used to such self promotion stunts, like the Birmingham Internet entrepreneur who auctioned her hand in marriage on eBay for £1 million. The stunt resulted in global publicity for her company (though failed to net her a spouse).
But online gambling outfit goldenpalace.com has taken the art of getting publicity out of outrageous eBay auctions to the next level.
First they paid £15,000 for a ten year old cheese sarnie that someone had put up for auction because it had an image of the virgin Mary engrained in its cheddar topping.
Peckish Diana Duyser made the sandwich a decade ago, but after taking a bite out of it, she noticed the Virgin Mary's face staring back at her.
Goldenpalace. com also bought the ball David Beckham infamously booted over the bar during England's crucial Euro 2004 penalty shootout with Portugallast summer for £18,000 and promised to put it into space aboard the next available space shuttle. They are obviously still waiting for that to happen.
Finally, in a more disturbing e Bay stunt, goldenpalace.com has won in auction the right to tattoo their URL across the face of Utahwoman Karolyne Smith, who accepted their bid of $10,000 to permanently write goldenpalace.com across her forehead.
Considering it costs more than that to advertise for one day in the national newspaper I think Karolyne, has sold her forehead cheap.
The tattooist who did the job spent seven hours trying to talk her out of it, but she insisted that she needed the money for her son's education.
Goldenpalace.com upped their bid to $15,000 when they realised she was going to go through with the self mutilation!
Karolyne's unusual spelling of her first name hints at her desire to stand out from the rest of the "Smiths" and suggests she is not doing this for only the paltry sum offered.
There aren't many companies that would seek to gain publicity by permanently disfiguring single mums in an attempt to promote their web site, and I don't suggest yours should.
But there are plenty of other nutters on eBay, selling less distasteful propositions. All you have to do is outbid the rest and if the idea is preposterous enough, a cheap publicity coupe is yours for the taking.
* Chris is managing director of Internet consultancy WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at webxpress.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org