Ticketing companies have been coming up with very creative ways to allow entry into shows; tickets have become digital and Ticketmaster is even investing in facial recognition. However, the soccer club Hertha Berlin had a new idea that could top everything else – a bar code embedded in a tattoo.

Photo courtesy NYT.


According to The New York Times, Ilja Pankow is a huge fan of Hertha Berlin, so when he heard about a promotional contest to earn a tattoo that also served as a lifetime ticket to the team’s home games, he went for it. The club requested fans to send in a video to prove that they should win the prize, so Pankow sent in a two-minute video, showcasing all of the team’s memorabilia he had gathered through the years – including signed jerseys, photographs of trips he went on going to their games, and other fandom items. He also revealed that he was a “tattoo virgin.”

Insomniac browser for ticketing professionals

Pankow ended up catching the club’s attention, and after over 900 submissions, he was chosen as the winner. Although he had voluntarily entered the contest, he now faced the decision that many tattoo-goers think right before getting inked: Do I want this on my body for the rest of my life?

“I thought: Oh, no. It’s real,” he told The Times. “And then I thought: Uh oh. I’m getting a tattoo.”

In February, Pankow, 36, received his very first tattoo, which included Hertha’s stadium flag, the outline of Berlin, and the most vital piece – a data matrix bar code. Along with the tattoo, Pankow was allowed to pick a lifetime seat anywhere in the stadium, but he chose to stay in the cheaper seat section “Ostkurve,” since that’s where he sat each year with a season ticket alongside other dedicated fans.

Finished tattoo. Photo courtesy NYT.


He told The Times that throughout the years — he had been seeing the team play since he was 12-years-old — he had seen both the good and bad. During the past five years, he admitted to only missing two home games.

Although the bar code on his arm works, it takes a few extra seconds to scan, which can create an awkward situation at the entry-point of the venue. However, he said he has no regrets about the tattoo.

“People can ask, ‘You have a QR code on your skin?’ ” he said. “And you get to tell them a nice story.”