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Toilet paper, to the untrained eye, is pretty much the same today as it was back in Don Draper's time in 1950s.
OK, toilet paper now comes with printed designs or with quilting to make it more comfortable to use, but the way it's dispensed has remained the same -- paper on a roll around a cardboard tube. That's the way toilet paper has been sold for 100 years.
That's about to change, as Kimberly-Clark announced it is testing a "tubeless" toilet paper roll for its Scott line of toilet paper. K-C says they may eventually use the tubeless technology for its paper towel products as well.
K-C hopes this will give their toilet paper a competive edge, as the first to be "green." They figure eliminating the 17 billion cardboard tubes sold every year can reduce trash by 160 million pounds. My guess it will also trim their material and production costs a bit. Let's see if the product is priced a bit lower. Or will the cost savings just add to K-C's bottom line?
One possible problem with going tubeless... the toilet paper rolls can get squished easier and may not roll as smoothly when you pull the paper. But maybe that's balanced by a benefit -- You'll actually get to use that last piece of toilet paper that usually stays stuck with glue to the cardboard tube.
Doing the math: 17 billion x one extra sheet... That's a lot of clean tushes.
These are probably typical of the messages you've seen scrawled on bathroom walls and stalls, along with nasty rhymes, gross drawings and weird invitations. But as perverted or disgusting as these messages may have been, their authors knew they had a captive audience for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes or more.
Bathrooms in public places have long been used as the venue for a strange sport of messaging that ranges from an impromptu community bulletion board to an unregulated porn marketplace rivaling Craigslist. The cost to those advertisers? Free, other than the cost of some ink from a marker or pen.
In some places, the bathrooms have long carried targeted advertising to a targeted audience, such as the unisex bathrooms in music venues like famed The Bitter End in Greenwich Village or The Living Room on the Lower East Side. On those walls, the scrawled messaged are covered over by years of stickers and posters promoting bands that have played there.
In most public bathrooms, the walls have traditionally been a wild west of advertising. But that's been changing over the 15 years, as out-of-home advertising hits the john.
Advertisers have an array of choices to reach people as they stand or sit for a moment while they take care of business. Most major markets in the U.S. and abroad have companies that place advertising posters or cards in bathrooms -- over urinals or inside bathroom stall doors. Some of these businesses exhibit a sense of humor in the names they've chosen -- Johnny Advertising in Grand Rapids, Phoenix and St. Louis, Standing Room Only Indoor Media in Nashville, Whizz Advertsing, Everywhereyougo in Michigan and Ohio, or, in Washington DC, Crapitol City Advertising.
The media kits that these companies use to sell ads tell an interesting story of how we use public restrooms. One media sales kit talks about the "long dwell times" that average 55 seconds for men and 105 seconds for women, where they are "captive" to the ad messages that, research shows, get very high recall -- much higher than ads in magazines, newspapers or TV. They have research to support these claims.
The sales kit for All Over Media in Florida lists these reasons bathroom advertising works to "reach consumers on the go."
Viewers like them.
You can saturate the market or hand pick your locations.
Your message will not be clicked past, tuned out or turned off.
People wait to see your ads and are in front of them for up to 3 minutes.
Target by location, lifestyle, gender, or zip code.
It’s cost effective. Other mediums can’t compare to our reach or retention for the same price.
The Indoor Billboard Advertising Association cites studies that show:
"Consumer attitudes toward restroom advertising were found to be very positive with as much as 98% of those surveyed indicating a favorable reaction." > Arizona State University Study
Retention of impressions generated by restroom advertising was found to be on average 40% stronger than impressions generated by other media. > Rice University Study
"When restroom advertising viewers are shopping for a product or service, retention of that particular product or service advertised raises to an 85% rate."
And bathroom advertising goes beyond posters. WhizBizAds in Mission Viejo, CA installs video displays a above urinals that run a series of 5-second ads. Another company projects ads onto the mirror from behind. And ad space can be purchased on johhny cakes, the deodorant bars that sit at the bottom of many urinals. One company even sells a johnnycake that plays a message or jingle when it gets peed on.
Many of these ad companies actively seek new locations, and they explain how bathrooms can be turned into revenue generators.
After looking through some of their sales brochures, I'm thinking of putting ads in my downstairs bathroom at home. If I can get enough traffic coming through, it might cover the cost of our toilet paper.
I'll give it some more thought the next time I'm in there for a couple of minutes. With no ads up yet, there's not much else to do.
This post marks the third year I've participated in Bathroom Blogfest. Previous posts can be found here, here and here. To read the contributions of the other 32 blogging participants, click here.
I just noticed that Matt Dickman is back with his blog Techno Marketer. When I first started blogging almost four years ago, Matt was one of the more prolific and thoughtful bloggers in the marketing space.
After he began a new job with PR agency Fleishman-Hillard, he slowed down and let his blog go dormant for about a year and a half.
But now he's back, and he says he'll put his focus on strategy, trends and innovation.
So... welcome back, Matt. We'll be looking forward to seeing your thoughts online again.
Chevron just got punk'd, with fake news releases sent to the media, backed by a phony website. Fast Company and Southern California Public Radio were among the media outlets that were fooled by the prank, reporting the fake news.
Yes Men, a group of activist pranksters who try to fool the media, are taking credit for the hoax. The Yes Men first came to prominence when they set up a fake World Trade Organization website in 2004. More recently, their effort against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year is now the subject of a lawsuit.
This isn't the first time -- and it won't be the last -- that the news media have let their guard down and have been fooled into running false stories. This group seems to have gone to great effort to fool them.
But I wonder if this is something that can happen with increasing frequency. Technology makes it easier for people to create phony websites, fake letterhead and emails that can look very much like the real thing.
I would like to think that years ago, reporters would have done some checking to be certain of the accuracy of the information and the sources by making calls to the PR department of the company or organization supposedly originating the material. Verification calls used to be standard operating procedure for the media.
But today, the 24-hour news cycle and the intense pressure to get information out there as soon as it comes in seems to have short-changed the tried & true checking procedures. And once something gets past one news organization or website, other media jump on it and take it as accurate. There's little time to make verification calls. And we now tend to check company websites and online press rooms to verify... but if a phony site's been set up, there goes the verification.
To me, it comes back to good journalism procedures. Check and re-check. That's how it used to be at newspapers and the wire services. Yes, it may have taken a little longer to get the story out to the public, but when it went out, it was usually right.
Knowing that elaborate hoaxes can be set up should put the media on notice to be extra vigilant in their reporting.
I had to laugh when I saw the story in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that reported on new procedures at Starbucks that limit the number of drink orders the "baristas" can take. Now it's only two at a time, so they can concentrate on doing it just right. Some customers and store managers are afraid that will slow the lines down even more than they now are.
The whole Starbucks phenomenon amazes me. It's another example of how the public can be led around like sheep, to be a part of something that's "cool" (or maybe it's more appropriate to say "hot").
Now obviously Starbucks has been doing something right. Just look at how it’s grown from a few shops in Seattle to a nationwide institution that's everywhere – even inside other retail venues like Border's or Citibank.
But I never did – and still don't – get it. The basic coffee is too strong for my taste… and I'm a lifelong coffee fanatic doing 3 – 6 or more cups a day. But taste aside, I can't stand the whole pricing and size thing at Starbucks. Whatever happened to small, medium and large? Ok, even add a jumbo if you want, but what is this venti, tall, grande BS. If I want a small, let me just ask for a small.
And I just don't understand why so many people gladly fork over $3.45 for a medium (ok, a grande coffee) when you can get the same thing at the deli on the corner for $1. Or the next block over, at Dunkin Donuts, for $ 1.69. And to my palette, Dunkin's coffee tastes sooo much better.
What Starbucks has gotten right is the atmosphere – a place where you're encouraged to hang and chill. No rush to turn over the tables. Stay, read the paper, chat with friends, go online. And they've been smart about using their many locations and high traffic to integrate other things into their menu – like CDs and books.
But when it comes to their basic product: latte, frappe, venti, whatever… just give me a plain old coffee. A small one, please.
Obviously, I'm way out of the mainstream on this one. I know. (If I'm coming across as a grump here, I apologize. I haven't had my 2nd cup of coffee yet.)
I'm proud to be one of the 170 bloggers who wrote chapters for Age of Conversation 3. So far, I've contributed to all three of the blogger-collaborative books organized and edited by Drew McLellan in Des Moines and Gavin Heaton down under in Sidney.
A charity has been selected to be the recipient of the book's proceeds. The first two books raised more than $25,000 for Variety - The International Childrens Charity.
An AoC3 Bum Rush for Blog Action Day, October 15
As you may know, today is Blog Action Day – and this year’s focus for Blog Action Day is water. To participate in Blog Action Day, you simply register your blog and then write a post. BUT what can you write about? Here’s where Age of Conversation comes in!
Charity Water is one of the participating partners for Blog Action Day. So what I’d like you to do is to help us with a Bum Rush on the Amazon charts – generate sales for AoC3 and raise money for Charity Water.
Charity Water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects.
Amazingly, just $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years. An average water project costs $5,000 and can serve 250 people with clean, safe water – so purchasing a copy of the Age of Conversation 3 really can make a difference to someone’s life!
Here's how you can help, and get a book filled with smart thinking from 170 bloggers worldwide...
Buy the Book and send others to buy the book. If you work in an agency, get your agency to purchase multiple copies and give them out as year end gifts. This is the #1 call to action, because this is where we want to see the most impact. NOTE: Please buy 1 copy at a time because Amazon counts bulk orders once, and please use these affiliate links, which will help us in tracking sales. Remember, all the proceeds from the book sales and referrals will go to charity water.
Click here to get more info and to purchase a copy, in hardvcover, paperback or for Kindle.
By the way, when you get your copy, check out my piece on Page 189, where I explain how in this world of new media, the old pitching rules still apply and work.
Today's young people are apt to be more technologically savvy than their parents. These days, that means so much more than being able to program the VCR and getting the digital clock to stop flashing 12:00 ... 12:00 ... 12:00.
Technology today for young people means being able to manipulate mobile devices so they can be constantly in touch with friends. It's about knowing what "important" celebrities are up to and what they're saying, and knowing 24/7 exactly where friends are, thanks to GPS locators and FourSquare.
Almost all of the 100 million Gen Y-ers are on Facebook -- 94 percent to be precise, according to a September survey by Ypulse. The most popular way for the Gen Y crew to communicate is via texting, even, unfortunately, while driving at 60 mph. Fifty-five percent stay in touch via texting. Facebook is the primary form of communication for 24 percent, ahead of talking by landline, cell or VoIP, at 10 percent. Only 1 percent of Gen Y-ers use email as their primary form of communication.
It seems that talking is disappearing among the younger crowd. Even when they're together -- hanging out at a party, at a music venue, in school (on the sly) -- they're texting rather than talking to each other face to face.
Although they're spending more time writing to communicate, I don't think the written shorthand of texting and Twitter is doing much to elevate the art of writing.
What will these changes in how we communicate mean for marketers and public relations pros in the not-too-distant future? OMG, will news releases look more like Twitter tweets, drastically abbreviated and punctuated by hashtags?
Marketers are experimenting with commercial text messages, but unless they've been given permission by the intended recipients, those efforts may be seen as spam. And I wonder how the next generation of PR people will try to communicate with their media targets. How effective can a 3-line text message be to sell a complex story idea?
It will be a challenge, especially if the Gen Y-ers who become reporters, producers or bloggers only look at text messages or Facebook updates.
Well, maybe it's more accurate to say newspapers and magazines are alive and, according to experts speaking at a New York Advertising Week panel last week, they will be around for some time. Digital platforms are how they may be delivered, though, rather than via ink on paper.
It's a welcome contrast to all the gloom & doom predictions we keep hearing when it comes to print media.
The NY Advertising Week panel says the economic storm papers and magazines have been suffering under is starting to subside. That's not to say all is rosy for print, but it looks like their content will remain intact, even as it comes to us in a number of new ways.
Many of the companies who publish papers and magazines are still quite profitable and have developed huge online audiences -- in some cases, dwarfing their print circulation. Newspaper publishers are moving into hyper-local news coverage to compete with TV and cable. Some of the biggest newspaper companies including The New York Times, News Corp's Wall Street Journal and Gannett are experimenting with various forms of pay walls. Some papers are trying putting some content exclusively in print, while promoting it online, the way Gannett's Journal News, in New York's northern suburbs, recently did with a story on teacher salaries in the region.
But it's a real struggle for print media, as production and delivery costs rise and the news cycle is no longer a cycle, but is now a steady flow of information that is instantly and constantly updated.
Print can do some things, of course, that digital simply can't -- at least, not yet. The printed page can deliver dazzling, eye-catching spreads that showcase an advertiser's product in spectacular color. It can offer gatefolds, die-cuts, encapsulated scent strips and other special effects for which some advertisers will gladly pay good money. And the printed page can remain indefinitely.
Digital platforms certainly have benefits they can offer up to advertisers -- hyper-localization of ad messages, targeting based on readers' online behavioral history, motion, links, instant updates and more.
As technology continues to evolve, it may end up not being an either-or situation, but more of a side-by-side situation, where magazines and newspapers are defined more by their content than by how we end users ultimately view the information. We already have choices -- read a newspaper or magazine the traditional way on a printed page, or view it online on a computer, smartphone, Kindle reader or on your giant HDTV screen.
But whether you buy The Times at the newsstand, pick it up at your doorstep, or view it online -- it's still The Times, reported by Times reporters. The same can be or eventually will be said for magazine titles.
Some very smart minds are hard at work trying to figure out how to deliver quality news and feature content via the various platforms and make money at it. I have confidence that they'll get it figured out -- hopefully sooner rather than later -- so publishers can remain viable businesses that can support quality newsrooms and pay good writers and editors.
Part of the change may be that we find ourselves paying for content we now get free online. That may be the new reality, just as most of us now pay for another form of news and entertainment we traditionally got for free -- television.
One thing remains unchanged ... people still want news and feature information.