Gee Whiz, It's a Talking Urinal

Controversy Is Free Advertising

By Buck Wolf

Oct. 12, 2004 — Hey guys, that woman you heard in the men's room is no lady. It's probably just an interactive urinal communicator — and you're only crazy if you talk back.

Taking "targeted advertising" to a new extreme, Country Music Television is using a talking urinal drain cover to advertise its Oct. 29 special, "CMT Greatest Outlaws: The Dirty Dozen."

When a guy steps up to the urinal, he'll hear a sexy woman's voice cooing, "Don't miss 'Outlaws' on CMT. You seem to miss everything else!"

The motion-activated device, called a "Wizmark," lasts for more than 10,000 flushes and features flashing lights, alternating pictures and a 10-second voice recording.

"We're talking about a very captive audience," says CMT spokesman James Hitchcock. "And this is one way to grab a guy's undivided attention."

Be warned, ladies: A sit-down "Wizmark" will be available faster than you can say, "How about a little privacy?"

Perhaps urinal advertising isn't right for all products, but Molson beer in Canada recently entered into an agreement with Wizmark to advertise a new brew in bars and clubs.

"We think urinal ads have the potential to be great for public service announcements for drinking and driving or safe sex," says Wizmark President Richard Deutsch, who recently patented the device.

Wizmark not only delivers advertising, it replaces the soap puck found in urinals, acting as a deodorizer.

Future versions of the Wizmark may allow the urinal to be turned into a veritable shooting gallery, giving points to guys when they hit specified targets.

"That could be the next big competitive sport," says Deutsch, who is obviously flush with success.

"Beginning with early attempts at writing one's name in the snow, there has already been an element of recreation associated with urination for men."

Marketing Misbehavior

The urinal ad suits CMT's "Outlaws" show, which was pre-recorded and features such bad boys as Hank Williams Jr., who moons the audience during his performance.

"We wanted to do something outrageous," says Hitchcock. "Obviously, this wouldn't have been suitable to promote a show like 'The 100 Greatest Love Songs.'"

We always hear that crime doesn't pay, but controversy remains a great engine for promotion, if not for the misbehaving star, then at least for some other opportunist.

This week, The Wolf Files looks at some new products inspired by celebrity misbehavior. You may soon be hearing more about these products from your friendly neighborhood urinal:

1. Kobe Bryant "I'm Sorry" Rings: You'll probably never be able to afford the $4 million lavender diamond ring Kobe Bryant gave his wife after a Colorado woman accused him of rape. But you can have a reasonable facsimile of Bryant's "I'm Sorry" ring for $19.95.