Kelsy Karter’s Tattoo Stunt: An Ingenious Marketing Strategy

Kelsy Karter's Tattoo Stunt: An Ingenious Marketing Strategy

Kelsy Karter

Devon C. '22, Reporter

Kelsy Karter, a 25-year-old singer from New Zealand, was going through a hard time last April. “My dog diva died [and] my relationship ended,” said Karter on her YouTube account. “The last thing I wanted to do was write another sad song about it.” Her friend, Ant, saw Harry Styles on her lockscreen and suggested that they write a song about him instead.

“I love that Harry has introduced rock to a new generation of fans,” said Karter. “Plus he’s nice to look at.” By the beginning of May, 2018, Karter had written the song and produced, directed, and edited a music video herself called “Harry,” but her team did not release it yet because they wanted to focus on writing other music.

In the beginning of January, Styles’ birthday was coming up so she wanted to release the song but did not know how to get the song publicity. “It was time. But how were we going to cut through the noise to get noticed?” said Karter. “What would the rock legends that inspired me have done in 2019?” So Karter did something quite drastic.

On Jan. 26, she posted a photo to Instagram of her with a face tattoo of Styles, but, it was actually fake. “To pull this off, we needed a celebrity tattoo artist to make it look real, so we called Romeo,” said Karter. “He traced Harry’s 2017 Rolling Stone cover, applied it to my face, and then a special FX makeup artist did her thing.”

The post immediately captured the attention of the press and the Internet was trying to find out whether the tattoo was real or not. Two days later, she released the music video for “Harry.”

“That’s when things really took off,” said Karter. “Every major publication and news outlet in the world covered the story and more importantly the song. I had your attention.” She soon went viral worldwide as the girl who wrote a song and had a face tattoo of Harry Styles.

“TMZ was looking for me, so we went to my manager’s place to hide out for three days. My friends and family were freaking out. We got calls from talk shows, radio stations, YouTubers, record labels, and every other human being we’ve ever met,” said Karter.

While she was hiding out, she even attempted to put the temporary tattoo back on, but when that did not work she had to tell the public about her publicity stunt.

“This has always been about Rock & Roll. ‘Harry’ is an anthem for the fans,” said Karter. “All that’s left is the music. Which is what my rockstar team and I had planned all along.”