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Marketing in the restroom

Snicker all you want, but if you’re ignoring bathroom advertising—“indoor billboard advertising” in the trade—you may be flushing away a useful bottom-line opportunity.

“It’s a captive audience for ad clients,” says Jeff Trent, president of Portland, Maine-based Billboardz, which specializes in restroom advertising. “And it’s a little easy money for the host.”

With a caveat: the payback isn’t so much in dollars and cents as it is in deals that trade ad space for useful restroom gear like hand dryers, urinal pucks and deodorizers. But when you consider the results of one recent study—that 78 percent of the people polled recalled one or more ads they’d seen in the loo—it helps explain why a lot of advertisers are clamoring to get to that captive audience.

You need to approach bathroom advertising carefully—if at all—and keep your clientele in mind, since whiz gizmos aimed at a younger, party-hardy crowd might not work for everyone.

To wit, here are a few bathroom marketing approaches:       

Potty posters

Professionally executed, full-color advertisements framed above urinals, beside mirrors and in stalls

  • Ad agency takes care of the details
  • Get a cut of the ad revenues, typically 15 percent
  • Trade for in-house ads or  ads in other media
  • Help reduce graffiti
  • Dress up drab décor

Digital dryers

High-tech hand dryers with built-in screens that show a commercial each time customers dry off

  • Agency typically supplies  and maintains the dryers— usually $800 to $1,500 apiece
  • Get a small monthly  host fee

Ladies room

Closing the stall door activates a recorded message

  • Speaks to a target  audience talking urinals can’t reach
  • Can be used to deliver public service DWI messages

Yakking urinals

A microchip-equipped urinal pad senses a “visitor” and delivers a short audio spiel, complete with flashing LED lights

  • Some pads also dispense deodorant
  • Spiel can include public  service DWI messages
  • Wow factor will have customers talking, too
  • Probably not right for more formal establishments

TP classifieds

Toilet paper squares that contain a custom ad or coupon

  • 500-sheet custom roll can cost $3 to $5, plus setup fee
  • You have to supply TP anyway

Interactive urinal gaming

Sensors in the fixture detect the location of the stream; the “player” manipulates a game icon on a video screen above the urinal

  • Still in the development  stages

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