Urinals in some pubs and hotels across New Zealand have now adverts that are heat-activated and display a message when hit by warm liquid.
They say either: “If you drink then don’t drive you’re a bloody legend” (picture of a taxi) or: “If you drink then drive you’re a bloody idiot” (picture of a wrecked car).
The Land Transport Safety Authority decided to run the campaign because every year, more people are being killed in drink-driving crashes, they also declared: “This will definitely be a ‘moment of truth’ experience for any bloke who goes to the toilet in one of the participating pubs.”
According to David Turner, president of the Indoor Billboard Advertising Association, the growing use of advertising in restrooms is due to the fact that the audience is captive to its biological needs.
Most marketers include bathroom ads as just one component of a plan that includes more traditional media. But for certain audiences, advertising in bathrooms is the piece de resistance of a campaign.
Nintendo achieved one of its most successful game launches in 2001 when it introduced “Conker’s Bad Fur Day.” Conker the squirrel drinks and urinates frequently. The media campaign included urinal mats, printed with the Conker URL, placed in men’s bathrooms in major urban markets.
Urinal mats aren’t for every advertiser bacause of marketers’ concerns that people are peeing on their ad creative.
Some will venture into unusual media, such as electrically charged vinyl posters in bathrooms. (The electric charge causes the material to stick firmly to a glass surface.) Earlier this year, cable networks TBS posted 1,350 charged posters on bathroom mirrors around Los Angeles and New York City. Designed to lure viewers to reruns of Sex and the City, the message read: “Samantha. Richard Wright. Men’s bathroom. Episode 87.”
The packaging of condoms distributed in bathrooms has also become an advertising medium. Herc, a maker of a powder used in energy drinks run a condom-package-based marketing campaign featuring taglines like “Play Harder” and “Keep it up.”
While decrying the loss of privacy, Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, looked on the bright side: “Maybe the benefit is that as bathrooms increasingly become a major place for advertising, we will all see cleaner public restrooms because advertisers will have a vested interest in keeping them that way.”