Media Urinalysis

While charting the migration of the phrase "Say No To Drugs" from Nancy Reagan's preach-writer to bumper stickers to the t-shirts of retro-ironists is a task probably best left to some future PhD candidate in cultural anthropology, the appearance of the 80's-era platitude on the rubber drain cover of a urinal in a small Reseda, California Italian restaurant marks what can only be called a sloganeering watershed.

And though the location of this particular reminder probably offers its message frustratingly late for prospective employees, the introduction of public service announcements into the bathroom can only, and inevitably, lead to a deluge of corporate advertising in the same spot. As commercialism continues to leak into every aspect of public life, even once-private times become attention-availability windows not be to pissed away.

And in fact, urinal ads have enormous potential advantages over drier, more traditional media. For example, their audience is largely self-selecting, and a well-aimed pitch in a bar's restroom would reach its target audience almost exclusively:

"Can't tell the difference? Try Irish Dark!"


"Pissed? Call Ed's Taxi Service!"


"Missed? Spiffy Cleaners offers great dry-cleaning and shoe-shining rates!"

And though the potential for urinal ads is nigh-infinite, perhaps the biggest opportunities come not from direct advertisements, but from indirect sales via urinal inducements.

Sports stadiums could pump up both mindless boosterism and paraphernalia income by simply adding the visiting team's logo to every drain cover. Political gatherings could do brisk drink business for those eager to return to Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton-festooned lavatories.

With consumers becoming increasingly jaded by the continuing glut of come-ons filling traditional ad-space, the urinal - and the singularity of focus it offers - creates a valuable, and untapped, opportunity to enter a person's stream of consciousness.

-- Greg Knauss

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