Your client singing
in the rest room
and handing out samples too
By Kathy Prentice
Over the past decade posters placed in restrooms next to
mirrors, in stalls and above urinals have become commonplace in bars and
restaurants in major markets.
Now the same posters can speak
and sing, emit fragrances and dispense samples.
To find out how to get your
clientís message to the eyes, ears and noses of a captive restroom
audience, read on.
This is one in a Media Life
series on buying the new out-of-home venues. They appear weekly.
Innovations in restroom
Numerous companies offer turnkey
service for restroom advertising. For this article, Media Life spoke with
Zoom Media in New York City, which has been posting ads in stalls and
urinals since 1991 and with InSite Advertising, also in New York. Theyíve
been in the business since 1997.
How it works
Standard restroom posters can now
"talk," emit a scent and dispense samples.
"You walk up to it and a
device in the frame senses motion," says Marc Miller, InSiteís
president. "Then they play a 20- to 40-second spot."
Samples are available through a
custom dispenser thatís attached to the board, says Zoom Media president Dennis Roche.
Posters are placed in stalls, above urinals and alongside mirrors
in restrooms. They also can be incorporated into the toilet paper
"A lot of advertisers want
this because itís a single sex environment," Roche says. "You
donít want to put a tampon on a billboard on 34th Street. You
want it to be in a restroom."
Creative is usually provided by
A restroom theme is often used in
"The environment lends
itself to fun," Roche says. "Most of the time itís customized
to people out having fun, not to the restroom."
"Crunch did an ad using
different exercises," Miller says. "They had a man doing a
urinal push up and in the ladies' room in-stall squatting exercises. Itís
Standard posters are 13 inches by
17 inches, framed and covered with Plexiglas.
Creative for talking displays is
often taken from radio spots, Miller says.
"Static clings" are
also available through InSite. "They are removable stickers that
adhere to any surface in the restroom," Miller says. "The
History Channel did a campaign for their 'Secret Passages' show.
It was a hand pointing and played on the theme of 'Secret Passages.'"
Static clings can be made in any
shape and size.
Digital displays are also
available through Zoom.
Product exclusivity is built in.
InSite posts two to five
non-competing ads per restroom or an advertiser can buy the entire
inventory, Miller says.
"You can have shampoo with
deodorant, but get category exclusivity," Roche says.
Advertisers are almost always
But some locals use the service,
including a county health department, for example.
Campaigns are both stand-alone
and part of a larger media mix including print, broadcast and other
"You can package it with
events and promotions," Roche says. "Like a movie launch with
graffiti murals, sidewalk decals, hand stamps on people at clubs and
Many advertisers use it for
Markets and locations can be
InSite is available in 3,000
locations in the following markets:
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago,
Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C., Dallas, Detroit,
Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Tampa, Miami, Phoenix,
Denver, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, St. Louis, Baltimore, San Diego, Hartford,
Charlotte, Raleigh, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Columbus, Asheville, Norfolk,
Buffalo, New Orleans, Memphis, Las Vegas, Syracuse, Tucson, Greensboro,
Providence, Albany, Dayton, Austin, Champaign, Madison, East Lansing,
Baton Rouge, Bloomington, Tallahassee, Wilmington, Gainesville, West
Lafayette, Ann Arbor, Athens, Berkeley, Boulder, Cape Cod, College
Station, Fayetteville, Iowa City, Jersey Shore, New Brunswick, State
College, Tempe, Trenton, Yonkers, College Park, Md. and Columbia, Mo.
Zoom is available in 2,000 venues in the following
Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore,
Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas/Ft.
Worth, Denver, Detroit, Durham, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami/Ft.
Lauderdale, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Orlando,
Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Sacramento, San Antonio, San
Diego, San Francisco, San Josť, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington D.C.
and Orange County, Calif.
Attendance numbers from venues
are used in addition to audit surveys.
Bar and nightclub customers use
the restroom an average of 3.2 times, according to a study by Audits &
Surveys Worldwide commissioned by InSite.
Digital photography and barcode
verification are used to monitor venues.
Over three out of four restroom
visitors interviewed, or 78 percent, recalled one or more of the restroom
ads, according to the Audits & Surveys Worldwide study. The sample
consisted of 14 locations in New York City, Boston, Chicago and
Philadelphia. Interviews were conducted as patrons exited restrooms.
Of those interviewed 75 percent
reported that they viewed restroom advertising as "a good idea."
Additionally, 43 percent reported finding it "very good" and two
percent called it "very poor."
The same study found 24 percent
of interviewees felt more positive toward a brand after viewing the
restroom advertising. Negative responses were 5 percent, with the
remainder reporting not being affected by the ad.
Nearly 75 percent of interviewees
felt that ads in restrooms are more noticeable than or equally as
noticeable as ads appearing in other media, according to the Audits and
What product categories do well?
Entertainment, liquor, tobacco,
health and beauty, pharmaceutical, fashion and fragrance are popular
choices for restroom advertising.
Point-of-purchase items like beer
and liquor do well.
The gender of bar and nightclub
customers using restrooms broke down to 55 percent male and 45 percent
female, according to the Audits & Surveys study.
Additionally, 35 percent of respondents
were ages 18-24, 44 percent were ages 25 to 34, 14 percent were ages 35 to 44 and
7 percent were 45 and older.
The education breakdown was 12
percent with high school or less, 26 percent with some college, 47 percent
college graduates, 12 percent with graduate degrees and 3 percent with
Activities in the past 30 days,
according to the Audits & Surveys study, broke down to:
- Accessed the internet at home or work, at 67 percent
- Went to a movie theatre, at 66 percent
- Bought a music CD or tape, at 61 percent
- Went to a health club, at 45 percent
- Attended a concert or show, at 35 percent
- Made a purchase over the internet, at 31 percent
Also 26 percent of respondents visit a bar or nightclub
twice a week, 24 percent once a week, 20 percent three times a week, and 13
percent four times a week. Daily visits were reported by 3 percent.
Groups can be tightly targeted.
For instance, Hispanics, African Americans, gays, sports fans and ravers can
be singled out.
"The most interesting thing
about restroom advertising is micro-targeting," Roche says.
"Thereís a highly targeted delivery of demographics and
Making the buy
Lead-time is six weeks.
Factors that affect cost include
the number of markets and campaign length.
Restrooms average $100 to $200
per unit, per month.
Campaigns are usually one, three,
six or 12 months. "Entertainment typically runs one month before a
show airs. Consumer products average three months," Miller says.
Creative can be changed monthly
at no extra charge.
Advertisers supply creative and
sometimes provide posters or InSite can print them for an additional charge.
Lead-time is 30 days.
Factors that affect pricing
include size and targeting. "The more targeted it is, the more
expensive," Roche says.
Campaigns are typically three
months. Creative can be changed monthly, but advertisers tend to leave the
same art up for three-month stretches, Roche says.
Zoom has sales offices in Los
Angeles and Chicago as well as New York.
Whoís already in the restrooms?
Bacardi, The History Channel,
Procter & Gamble, USA Network, Miller Brewing, Heineken, Nintendo and
GfK Pharmacies are a few of the advertisers in restrooms.
What theyíre saying
"In a restroom for one to
three minutes we own you. Itís a liability to turn left or right at a
urinal." Ė Marc Miller, president of New York-based InSite
Web site info
InSite Advertising at www.insiteadvertising.com
Zoom Media at www.zoommedia.us
Professional sports venues can be
targeted through AdCommunity, headquartered in Chicago. According to
president Woodrow Levin, his company places signage in Major League baseball parks
and National Football League stadiums. For more information, try www.adcommunity.com
For Media Lifeís previous coverage
of restroom advertising, see "Psst!
Before you flush have you consideredÖ?" from May 22, 2000.
April 28, 2003© 2003 Media Life
-Kathy Prentice writes about out-of-home advertising for Media Life, penning
her stories from the resort town of Traverse City, in the upper reaches of
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