Guys, are we ready for this?

According to unconfirmed research by a non-partisan think tank outside Shin Pond, Maine, the current composition of our much put-upon earth is roughly 7 percent hydrogen, 8 percent oxygen, 11 percent silicon and 74 percent advertising.

I guess that’s no big surprise (except for the, like, hydrogen, oxygen and silicon part …).

Advertising is everywhere – on billboards, buses and ballparks.

And soon it will be even more everywhere.

Healthquest Technologies Inc. is planning on taking high tech advertising to the very heart of the sacrosanct American male rest stop – the urinal.

The Islip, N.Y., company’s latest invention – called “Wizmark” – is described as an “interactive urinal communicator” designed to catch the eye of anyone using one of the ubiquitous male restroom appliances.”

As a one-of-a-kind, fully functional interactive device, Wizmark can talk, sing or flash a string of lights around a promotional message while greeting a visitor. The large, anti-glare, waterproof (well, duh…) viewing screen is strategically located just above the drain to ensure guaranteed viewing without interruptions,” the company’s website enthuses.

Uh-huh…

The effectiveness of Wizmark is based upon rigidly prescribed urinal behavior passed down from father to son, generation after generation:

  • Face forward (this is really important)
  • Eyes down&
  • No small talk
  • No singing of Broadway show tunes.

Since 95 percent of American males follow these rules religiously, Wizmark promises a practically captive audience every time an unsuspecting fellow strolls into a men’s room to take care of business.

“Realizing this unwritten code, the appeal of this marketing concept to you as an advertiser is that it effectively assures your ad will attract the attention of, and be read by, the ever-elusive targeted male audience you are constantly aiming for,” the company promises in describing its “perfect guerilla marketing medium.”

Uh-huh…

On the surface, this does sound like an effective new advertising technique.

On the other hand, one has to remember that we’re talking about a restroom fixture that has been around for decades with few, if any, radical changes. Ditto for the rules of using said fixture.

Most guys simply do not expect their urinal-of-choice to start talking to them, burst into song or put on an impromptu electronic light show. Therefore, such behavior can be rather unsettling. If not forewarned, startled visitors could wind up fleeing men’s rooms in a state of unzipped dishabille, bellowing about space aliens, terrorists and the Son of Sam (not necessarily in that order).

These surprises also might backfire for cocktail lounges and taverns. Think about it – you stroll into the men’s room after your usual four martinis and the urinal begins talking to you. Chances are you’re going to start seriously reconsidering your future alcohol consumption…

Originally published October 22, 2006

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