In this world of Web 2.5 marketing, companies are using social media as a way of connecting with their customers, while at the same time creating a transparent dialog between the brand and its users.
For the past few years during the holiday season, Charmin has created a pop-up store in Time Square where they have installed public bathrooms for shoppers to use, and of course these bathrooms are stocked with different varieties of Charmin products.
This year, at Charmin's site Enjoythego.com, Charmin has a Help Wanted ad looking for "5 bloggers who enjoy going to the bathroom". Seriously. They further point our that these bloggers will be responsible for greeting guests, entertaining them (again, seriously), and then blogging about the experience. For those lucky few who are chosen, they will be paid $10,000 for 6 weeks work. I kid you not.
I can see why the bloggers will do it. To make $10,000 to stand in a bathroom for 6 weeks, not a bad gig. But the whole purpose of this Charmin bathroom concept is to connect with consumers, and raise the awareness of the Charmin brand. Will having bloggers on hand really accomplish this? I see the consumer experience happening something like this:
Shopper: Hi! Is there a stall open, I really have to go.
Charmin Ambassador: Welcome! We are so happy you are here. My name is Chad, and I'm here to greet you. What level of softness would you like to try.
S: Chad, it doesn't matter, man. I really have to go, and I mean like now.
CA: Okay, but before I get you a stall, I'm also here to entertain you. Did you hear the one about the rabbi, the priest, and the buddhist monk who all walked into a men's room together?
S: Dude, are you out of your mind? I just ate at one of the gyros carts on West 57th, and it is not sitting well with me. If I don't go now, I'm going to explode. Literally! Help me out, Chad.
CA: Okay, follow me. And I'll wait by the door so I can ask you a few questions when you are done.
(11 minutes later, shopper exits stall)
CA: Wow, you must have really "Enjoyed the Go". Can you tell me about it?
S: What the heck are you talking about. I had to go really bad, and I went. What else do you want to know, and why are you asking?
CA: Well, I am being paid $10,000 by Procter & Gamble to write about your "going" experience, so can you tell me, while you were in there for 11 minutes, did you a) read a book, b) read stuff on your iPhone, c) read nothing and just think or d) pass out on the floor?
S: You're strange Chad. Leave me alone. Next time I'll just duck into a Sbarro and use their bathroom. It's dirtier, but no one will hang outside the door asking me dumb questions. AND DON'T WRITE ABOUT MY GO!
I don't know about you, but I think this is a really bad experiential marketing idea. I'm not sure what the bloggers are going to write about that will make us want to purchase more Charmin. And how much do we want to be entertained when we simply have to go to the bathroom?
But here is the really fun news. It just so happens, I am going to be in New York during this period, and I think I might just test the concept to see how it works. But before I do, I'm thinking of a great big meal of Indian food with a lot of asparagus. That will give the bloggers something to write about, and help them really earn their $10,000.