Restroom and Urinal Advertisement

Table of Contents restroom_ad.jpg
  • History
  • Reasons for using alternative/emerging media
  • Responsiveness/Scheduling
  • Cost
  • Limitations
  • Audience Qualities
  • Impact
  • Reach and Frequency


Restroom advertisement is thought of as a new emerging media vehicle, but restrooms have actually been used for advertisement purposes much longer than believed. Ads have shown up for decades on the back of bathroom stalls and walls, displaying commercial messages placed by antisocial cranks and hookers offering various types of sexual orientations (Sanders, 2004). Now Companies are taking up that wall space for their own advertisement, making restrooms a highly mainstream market for advertisers in a much more appropriate an effective manner. This trend started out very small in 1997 with Dennis Roche, president of Zoom Media , the company who created the first successful toilet ad (Tucker, 2003). With the success rate of that first bathroom ad, brought about a new medium for advertisers to use and in 1998 the Indoor Billboard Advertising Association was formed, operating as a clearinghouse regulating agency use of restroom advertisement in companies across the U.S. and Canada (IBAA, 2009). Now big names like Sony, Unilever, Axe deodorant, and Nintendo are turning to this form of guerilla advertisement to promote new products (Sanders, 2004). Many new restroom based ad agencies that’s specialize in restroom advertisement have also come about, such as; BillBoardZ , Flush Media , Jonny Advertising, Insite Advertising, Inc, Wall AG USA, ADpower, NextMedia, and Alive Promo (American Restroom Association, 9/24/2009).

Reasons for using

This unexpected medium created a new an inventive way to advertise. Ad companies have span far from just using restroom wall and stall space to spread their message to their target market. Now new advanced high tech items such as; digital dryers, stall door recorded messages, microchip-equipped urinal mats, flat screens, urinal pucks, and the basic potty posters and toilet paper squares are just a few new tactics used by advertisers (Strenk, 2003 ).

ad1.jpgBattery Energy Drink used a guerilla campaign (pictured left) to show how powerful its product is.

Responsiveness/ Scheduling

Restroom advertisement reaches a very “captive audience”, in a stall or standing in front of a urinal, where there are no distractions, a talking stall or urinal mat are bond to capture attention (Tucker, 2003). According to recent studies, restroom advertisements have a recall rate of 78% (Strenk, 2003). “If you have the right creative, there’s a lot of talk value in bathroom advertising” says Axe deodorant senior brand development manager Mr. David Rubin (Sanders, 2004). Word of mouth reaches an even broader audience without even seeing the original ad. There are a few helpful rules to doing a restroom ad right, what each item does and which would be more effective in certain facilities makes a big difference in the effectiveness of the ad. Potty posters should be professionally executed, full-color, framed, and placed beside stalls and mirrors and above urinals (Strenk, 2003). Digital dryers, display their advertisement message across built in screens, showing a commercial with each use. Stall messages speak to the target audience that urinal ads can’t reach and both can even be used to deliver public service messages (Strenk, 2003). Scheduling this medium is not very hard at all. Ad companies would go out and buy the space from different restaurants, companies, airports, and other such areas and would just have to pay for their form of advertisement tactic and set- up fee. Companies would just have to pay a monthly fees or onetime fee to host for showing ad, build or create an ad, find a good effective space to place it, and purchase the ad for however long the campaign would run. Price varies depending on area where advertisement would be placed and is usually quite inexpensive.axe_ads1.jpg


The best part about restroom advertisement is that they are fairly inexpensive which adds to the many other great reasons for using the alternative/emerging media. The cost varies depending on what advertisement approach a company takes. Digital dryers are typically supplied and maintained by agency and cost around $800-$1,500 apiece and the host would receive a small monthly fee (Strenk, 2003). Toilet paper squares that contain a coupon or an ad cost approximately $3-$5 for a 500-sheet custom roll, plus a setup fee (Strenk, 2003). A talking or non-talking Potty poster will run about $95-$300 with frame (Brown, 1999). Flat screen advertisement depends on the size and type of flat screen and the price of installing such a medium. Overall restroom ads are a lot cheaper than many other media vehicles; such as T.V. and magazines.

Toilet paper advertising the television show "30 Rock" (pictured right) was used in the Netherlands.


Restroom advertisement, even with its effective strategies, has its limitations. First and foremost, is the issue that it is a restroom. Advertisement is being placed in a very private area of a consumer’s life. Some consumers may even feel as though it is a violation of their privacy and avoid the ad at all cost or could result in bad word of mouth for the company. “Bathroom advertising comes with baggage: it is a bathroom. You really have to work with the humor of the fact that you are in the bathroom. The link between the message, the media and the target has to be at play” (Sanders, 2004). Another fall back is that the ad doesn’t really get to be displayed in any other fashion other than in the restroom. There have been exceptions such as port-o-potties wrap around which appears on the inside and outside of the port-o-potties with Micro Target Media’s new ads, who are positioned to put ads on 500,000 portable restroom worldwide (Woyke, E. 2006). These can still be considered restroom advertisement even though out of the traditional restroom setting, it allows advertisers to reach a larger market showing off its other interesting qualities of the mediums use.

Audience Qualities

Restroom advertisement audience qualities seem to have a good set target audience. Most restroom ads are geared towards young affluent adults from ages 21-35 years (Indoor Billboard Advertising Association, 10/01/2009). Demographically its gives the ability to strictly target male or female audiences only, making it easier to design a message for a specific gender (IBAA, 2009). Younger teens age 15 and up also seem to be a good target when using the medium.


The effectiveness or the impacts on the target audience are very positive. 98% of consumer attitudes toward restroom advertisements were found to be positive according to a recent survey (IBAA, 2009). The retention rate of impressions averaged about 40% higher than other impressions from different media (IBAA, 2009). While shopping, retention of particular brand or product comes in around 85% (IBAA, 2009). The memorable experience of an unexpected restroom ad tends to stay on a consumers mind rather than the millions of televisions ad one’s see each day. This medium is different exciting and is something consumers remember and talk about.

Reach and Frequency

With such high retention rates, frequency is not a huge issue. A shocking restroom ad needs to only be seen once or twice to retain the ad and increase brand awareness of the brand. Research shows on average 75% of consumers use the restrooms, in a bar or nightclub a consumer uses the restroom about three times per stay same as in an arena (Sanders, 2004). The frequency of each ad is about three times to retain full impression to call to action of buying or finding out more info about the brand. Depending on the particular area chosen to place the ad, it could reach 75% of consumers in a restaurant and even more in a bar or nightclub just based on the frequency of their visits to the restroom and much more in an arena or airport with 50,000 or more consumers being exposed to the ad (Sanders, 2004). According to statistics in Canada, 2.1 million Canadians ages 20-24, and 4.1 million consumers aged 25-34, totaling 6.3 million young adults 20-34 and 2.0 million teenagers 15-18, were reached viewing restroom ads throughout the country where ads were placed (Chilton, 2003).
Restroom advertisement seems like a very unlikely advertising medium, but turns out to be a very effective an inexpensive way to reach a defined target market and captivate them. The retention and recall rates are very high, making it beneficial to promote sells for a service or a product and compared to other media mediums is just a logical choice to place an advertisement.

Related Pictures

external image urinal_psp_advertising.jpg

external image boarddrinkndrive.jpg

Related Links

References/Work Cited

1. Woyke, E. (2006). Port-O-promotion. BusinessWeek, (4003), 10-10. Retrieved from
2. Strenk, T. (2006). Stall tactics. Restaurant Business, 105(9), 14-14. Retrieved from
3. Tucker, R. (2003). Would you put your ad here? Fortune, 147(5), 42-42. Retrieved from
4. Chilton, D. (2003). Head to head competition. Marketing Magazine, 108(9), 11. Retrieved from
5. Brown, B. (1999). 'The urinals are alive with the sound ...'. Advertising Age International, , 35. Retrieved from ​
6. Brown, E. (1998). Advertisers skip to the loo. Fortune, 138(8), 64-64. Retrieved from
7. Independent Research tells us…
APA Monitor, 1, 1. Retrieved October 01, 2009, from
8. Lisa Sanders. (2004, September). More marketers have to go to the bathroom. Advertising Age, 75(38), 53. Retrieved October 29, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 701479101).
9. American Restroom Association: Restroom Advertising
APA Monitor, 1, 4. Retrieved September 4, 2009, from here.