Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Bathroom marketing

I remember traveling as a kid with my parents. Of course I'd have to hit the john for every stop, and I'd learn about all sorts of products which were hard to find elsewhere at the time. I also learned not to ask questions about them too.

Then for a while it seemed that those machines disappeared, and their presence was surefire confirmation that you were in a dive. It probably had something to do with motels and truck stops being corporatized - local owners would take money from whatever might provide it, but the suits at headquarters had their standards, dammit. Nope, no condom machines, no "novelties" - spoilsports!

But it's yesterday once more, in Ohio anyway. Having to make an emergency pitstop there was like being a kid again. Condom machines, up to 75 cents from a quarter and no longer "for prevention of disease only". A scale with lottery numbers. A cologne dispenser with knockoffs of reputable brands. How long before there are interactive monitors hooked up to Home Shopping Network? Or even those cool Japanese toilets?

It's been a long time since I've seen a pay toilet, but I wonder if there aren't other ways to make money from those captive audiences. Like, say, a TV display in the stall, powered by quarters. I thought I'd read of a casino somewhere that allowed gambling from the bathroom. But all of these might have to wait for a throne that doesn't make your legs fall asleep after a long session.

Bathroom marketing might be humble, but as a plumber's wife once told me, "your shit is our bread and butter".

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