The toilet cubicle advertisement

I saw an advert blu-tacked to the inside of a toilet cubicle door. It’s a great place for adverts. In one sense, it’s stripping you of that one remaining place where you can be alone in your head without words shouting at you from posters and screens. But then, it could equally be regarded as a little nudge that starts a train of thought. From a few sentences in front of your face a whole new network of ideas unfurls.

With no stimuli at all, would we ever think of anything new? Or just keep circling the same few themes, at most gradually expanding our understanding of them? I like adverts in toilet cubicles. But only the right sort. Like this one.

It was simple, just black ink on white paper. A simple question. A deeper implication. A contact detail and a little hint of something human. Not an affront to the eyes, just a gentle plea, a suggestion even. It wasn't some faceless corporation trying to force you to do something. It was just another person asking if you wouldn't mind helping them out.

The best thing about toilet adverts is that they don’t need the flashy graphics or attention-seeking headlines you see elsewhere. They already have your full attention for a minute or two; they don’t need to catch your eye or hold you in long enough to read to the punchline. They don’t have to try. It’s a relief to see a simple ink-on-paper ad during this snatched moment of solitude, after being bombarded all day by things trying to sell themselves to you.

Some people don’t get it. They use the same flashy posters for in-cubicle promotion as they do everywhere else. For all the marketing geniuses they employ, no one’s pointed out that just words on paper will engage the full attention of their trapped audience. They've missed out on the real beauty of this particular ad placement.

A toilet cubicle advert should be visually simple and intellectually provoking. That should be enough.