Reporting Mike Krauser
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Across the lake this Fourth of July weekend, the State of Michigan is using some ear-catching messages to reach men who might drink and drive during the Fourth-of-July weekend.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, gentlemen who have visited the men’s room of any bar across the country are sure to have run into a message like “say no to drugs” or “arrive alive when you drive” printed on that bright blue or red plastic screen at the bottom of each urinal.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
But in Michigan this weekend, you’ll get more than a public service message in mere text form. The urinals will talk to you too.
“Hey there, big guy. Having a few drinks?” the voice says. “Then listen up. Think you’ve had one too many? Then it’s time to call a cab, or a sober friend for a ride home. It sure is safer…”
The Crownsville, Md.-based company behind the talking urinal screens is appropriately known as Wizmark. The company’s Interactive Urinal Communicator is usually used for advertising, and the company’s Web site says the placement is sure to get men’s attention.
“Wizmark is based on one unwritten rule of men’s room etiquette; when using a urinal, never stare at the person next to you. Every male knows that when he is using a urinal, he can look anyway he wants, except left or right,” the company says on its Web site. “Realizing this unwritten code, the appeal of this marketing concept to you as an advertiser is that it effectively assures your ad will attract the attention of, and be read by, the ever elusive targeted male audience you are constantly aiming for. Wizmark’s interactive capabilities will get results, providing the perfect guerilla marketing medium for men of all ages.”
The State of Michigan is distributing 400 of the talking urinal screens to bars and restaurants.
In addition to the talking urinal screens, Wizmark also offers screens with lenticular images – which begin alternate between two pictures as they detect someone approaching a urinal – and screens electronic lights which flash in sequence as he looks down.
Wizmark is one of many companies that have been coming up with innovations to break up the tedium of visiting the men’s room. CNET reported last year on British-based Captive Media, which patented a system in which men using the urinals can control a game involving speeding through mountains or putting out a fire. The iconic video game maker Sega has come up with a similar invention, called “Toylets,” in Japan.
And last month, Billboard Brasil made headlines for rolling out the Guitar Pee, a urinal outfitted with six rods that play per-recorded electric guitar solos as a man urinates against them. Users of the Guitar Pee urinal, which is now only found in Sao Paulo, can visit a Web site when they are done in the men’s room to get an “MPEE3” of their urinal-generated composition.