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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 28-May-10


Tuesday 28-May-10

Toilet Ads

Talking about toilets is not something we do every day. In fact when we need to even mention it, we use euphemisms to avoid embarrassment, such as the loo, lav, little room, WC, comfort station, and so on. In robust (usually male) company, people laugh and over-compensate in the other direction to show that they a not embarrassed at all, and so talk about the bog, john, trap, etc.

So in the spirit of embarrassment, let's talk about it. An interesting question is about what you do in the loo, other than attending to the natural business (ok, let's steer clear of that stuff!). Getting to the point, people are sitting or standing with little to do, which is an ideal opportunity for advertisers to capture an idle brain that would actually welcome a distraction.

I do see some toilet advertising, but not much. It's kind of a specialist field as not all brands want to be associated with toilets which they associate as unpleasant, smelly places. I don't think it is actually that big a deal as many public toilets in shops and hotels are extremely clean (where else gets such attention -- often several times a day).

A good toilet ad, then, takes account of the person's situation and gives them something distracting to read. Ideally, reading time is about as long as, um, the person is there. Humour can work, especially in men's toilets, but only to raise a wry grin -- a chap laughing when standing next top you may be taken as doing so at your expense, so to speak.

Placement is critical and should be at eye level where people are stationary. I came across an example of really bad placement once, where the ads were nicely placed at eye level and had a good quantity of text to read, but were placed between the urinals in a men's toilet. This required a man standing there to turn his head partly in the direction of the guy standing next to him. This is a big no-no! In the toilet, especially when doing your business, the rules for men are eyes forward, ignore others and most definitely never appear in any way to be looking towards another chap's private parts! The result for that particular advertiser wasn that their ad would hardly be read.

So. What general lessons can we draw? The bottom line is to be open and creative in how you think about where you can advertise, seeking out moments when your audience would actually welcome your advertisement, but always, always do this based on a sound understanding of human psychology.

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