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.


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.”


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

Bright new horizons for advertising world

I was gratified to read not long ago that Nissan Motors has launched a lively new advertising campaign that’s guaranteed to catch everyone’s attention – providing everyone is watching “The Matrix Revolutions” in their favorite neighborhood theater during the next few weeks.

According to the New York Times, Nissan’s latest advertising brainchild involves strategically placing actors among unsuspecting theater patrons during screenings of “The Matrix Revolutions.”

The actors pop up while a commercial bearing the Nissan Altima logo is being shown on the screen, then they begin belting out bits of intriguing doggerel reminiscent of what one might encounter during a spontaneous poetry slam.

Hey, if this doesn’t liven up the seemingly endless series of “Matrix” flicks (coming soon: “Matrix Regurgitated”), nothing will.

Unfortunately, this brave new world of advertising is being limited to movie theaters during the screening of just one film.

And this is where good old American marketing know-how will have to step up to the plate and show Japanese automotive advertising how it’s done.(You, like, followed that, right?)

Think about it, amigos – if this works to sell cars in theaters, it’s gotta work great just about anywhere. All you need are actors, free verse and a place to convince – or frighten – the passing consumer into purchasing your product.

Before long, other savvy automobile manufacturers will be eagerly copying Nissan’s innovative advertising technique.

One spring day you’ll be walking past an unassuming auto dealership when a dashing fellow in a 19th-century British Lancers uniform will leap out of the shrubbery and declare:

“Half a league,

Half a league,

Half a league onward!

Into the Valley of Death

Rolled the 2004 Jaguar!”

Needless to say, if it works for automobiles, this singular advertising trend is sure to work for everything from artichokes to home appliances.

Just picture Joe Consumer sleepily wandering through a neighborhood department store on a lazy Saturday afternoon. He’s already forgotten what he was looking for in the first place, so he’s using the old pinball approach to shopping, bouncing from wall to wall in the hope that he’ll eventually remember what he really, really, needed to purchase.

That’s when our actor leaps out from behind a display of housewares and begins his pitch:


“Is this a Crock Pot

I see before me,

or nothing more than the remnants of a dream,

the specter of meals unborn?

Lo, it is a Crock Pot!

A lusty, six-quart

programmable Crock Pot!

I dance!

I weep!

I shout to the heavens!

And only $49.99!”

Let’s face it, after an inspired performance like that, you’re gonna buy the Crock Pot and probably pick up a toaster oven, too, just to be on the safe side…

Originally published November 30, 2003