Everybody poops. This is what Procter and Gamble is counting on this holiday season as they host the third annual Charmin public toilets in New York City’s Times Square. The 20 indoor toilets are set up for tourists and the NYC public to use while they are shopping and otherwise walking across Broadway, from Nov. 24 to New Year’s Eve.
To begin the event, they hired ultra-famous Joey Fatone, of former Backstreet Boys fame, to execute the first flush. He was named King of the Throne.
P&G is adding a new twist to this year’s potty break. They held open auditions for bathroom ambassadors this month, and will choose five individuals to be paid $10,000 for six weeks of greeting toilet-users. These employees are in addition to the more than 100 that will be employed as attendants to clean the bathrooms after each use.
The ambassadors’ job will be to interact with bathroom users and ask them about their Charmin experience, posting short observations on Facebook and Twitter as well as other blogging sites. They will also take “family friendly” photos that will be available for download on their Web site.
When I say interact, I mean strictly on the outside of the bathrooms, otherwise it would be weird. Surely these “interactions” have to be a little awkward though, and it makes you wonder what Charmin is trying to accomplish.
Will a tourist to the Big Apple discuss his or her bathroom habits with a perfect stranger — for example, how many squares they use, which Charmin product they prefer, front to back or back to front? Is this simply a marketing tool by P&G, or do they have a whole boardroom full of voyeurs?
While public restrooms are just that, public, using the toilet is kind of a private experience, at least for most people. I find it hard to believe that P&G will get any useful polling information from this venture.
The Charmin Web site announces on their front page the bathrooms will be open on New Year’s Eve after the ball drops until 2 a.m. These toilets are going to see some major traffic, and a lot more than just bladder-heavy tourists. Drunk, hung-over and otherwise incapacitated partygoers surely will frequent them as well.
Clean and comfortable public toilets are not words you hear together very often. If Charmin has pulled this off in past years, surely they can do it again, I’m just not sure toilet ambassadors will be a welcome or even helpful addition. It’s not everyday you walk out of a bathroom and get bombarded with questions about your experience, not to mention get your photo taken just as you finish emptying your bladder or having a bowel movement.


Here's a link to Charmin's Web site for more information:

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