Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An Ad...In a Port-A-Potty???

In my dorm bathroom, someone posted a sign this weekend, telling us to wipe the seat after we use the toilet. Kind of random, I must say, to do this and place her concern on the back door of the stall, but I saw the sign very easily and read it! This little escapade in the stall got me thinking about my previous posts about car and board game product placement - also random and appealing mediums for placement. So, this made me delve into the world of bathroom product placement and advertising. And, easily enough, it was there and is becoming more and more common, too. Yes, indeed, marketers are coming to a bathroom stall near you!

I Googled 'bathroom advertising,' then 'bathroom product placement' and
this website came up for the American Restroom Association (that exists?). An article was posted at the bottom that talked about a wrapped Port-A-Potty, just like the wrapped cars. In 2006, a company who worked closely with the New York AIDS Walk obtained some portable bathrooms and covered them in bright red colors that marketed the walk. The information on the bathrooms created "a 360-degree visually stunning billboard effect" that was present in Central Park for one weekend and was used at the Indy 500, as well. In Central Park alone, the bathrooms were seen by an "hundreds of thousands of regular weekend park users." The stalls would definitely grab my attention as I am walking through Central Park or watching the Indy 500. I would also think it would be interesting to actually use the restrooms and say that I used a unique, hot red Port-A-Potty that no one has ever seen before. Sounds like effective product placement strategy!

The bathroom advertising industry is rapidly growing. This outlet allows marketers to use advertising and product placement to,
according to USA Today, "be more innovative — to zig when others zag" and "find clever ways to reach people. When someone says, 'Let's put advertising in bathroom stalls,' another says 'That's great. It's a captive audience.' " This article, written in Pittsburgh, says that advertising or product placement in a bathroom stall prevents the consumer from getting away from it. People cannot turn off a channel like on TV or radio, or "X" out of a pop-up like they can with an online ad. Using product placement in a bathroom "breaks through the clutter."

Bathroom product placement is now classified as 'out-of-home advertising' that is thought to become a profitable medium in the coming years. This mode of product placement expands into other outlets like ATM screen advertisements, ads on public telephone kiosks, bench signs, and bus ads. The 'out-of-home' industry creates $2.1 billion in business per year, "nearly half the $4.4 billion spent on the total category of outdoor advertising." This is a HUGE amount of money, and I am interested to see what will happen. Yes, I do not want people barging into my most private moments, but with some of the changes in mass media, brands have to reach you SOMEHOW! Bathrooms are a place where everyone goes, so marketers might as well try it. Product placement is supposed to occur when you least expect it, and the bathroom is definitely unexpected!

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