Squatty Potty, whose unicorn video has drawn 140 million views and helped sell $28 million worth of stools to improve the bathroom experience last year, now has a bigger name on its side: Kathy Griffin.
In her new ad from Bravery, whose co-founder worked on Kmart's memorable "Ship My Pants," Griffin drops the wordplay to show why everyone is basically "full of shit." The brand already had its bases covered with men thanks to Howard Stern, and millennials thanks to the unicorn, said CEO and co-founder Bobby Edwards. Griffin is meant to help with women 35-55.
The controversial former pitchwoman for everything from Kotex to Target hasn't gotten a lot of ad work lately. And despite winning Emmys and commercial success in her long climb out of the D-List, she said in an interview with Ad Age that she never got to headline an upfront presentation, either.
But she's all in on Squatty Potty. "It's more than a footstool," she said. "It's a lifestyle." America is ready for frank discussions about poop, she said, in part because it's loosened up lately. She credits a Trump. Just not the Trump you're thinking. Despite all that, she doesn't think reality TV can handle reality anymore.
What got you into this?
I have found a footstool that helps people. And I don't want to say it's going to save the world, but if you want to write that, I'm not going to stop you.
How important is this as a health condition for humanity?
The most important. I've done a shit ton of commercials over the years. I've done commercials with Joe Pytka and Bob Giraldi back in the day. I've done Super Bowl ads. Then as my act became a little more prominent, and I became more of a lightning-rod comedienne. A year ago Adweek did a cover story saying why doesn't Kathy Griffin do more commercials? And then after that, nothing. The phone didn't ring. And I was like, you're kidding?
And then all of a sudden the phone did ring. When they told me the spot is going to be called "Kathy Griffin is full of shit," it was almost like a marriage proposal. It was my final rose. It's like the Squatty Potty is the final bachelor, and after fighting with all the bitches in the house I finally end up with the rose.
Were you not familiar with the product before they approached you?
I had heard of it, and knew it was on Shark Tank. But I actually thought it was a toilet-seat cover.
I wasn't supposed to tell anybody, but I did tell some of my friends. And every single person I told said, "I have one." Or "I'd love one. Get me one, bitch." One girl told me the funniest thing – that she's too embarrassed to buy it, but she takes books and stacks them up on either side of the toilet. It's more than a footstool. It's a lifestyle.
How is it a lifestyle?
Because you make a decision to go No. 2, and you've got the decorative footstool you can hide if guests are coming over and you're embarrassed. Or if you're me, every time someone is coming over I show them, and they say, "Oh my God, I want to get one." I'm finding everyone either has one or they know of it because of Shark Tank.
Is this the toughest or the easiest branding gig you've had?
I've done everything from Secret deodorant to Doritos to Target, where I actually played the guitar and sang and they had the dog.
Then honestly I saw this big drop. And I realized I'm not doing any commercials anymore. And I think our country is honestly coming out of a period of being so easily shocked. I do this every weekend. I take the country's temperature if you will. And I love it as a comic, the last six months to a year, people have just loosened up across the board, because I really feel the world has gotten so nuts that a joke that maybe two years ago where people were aghast, now everyone is like, oh screw it. Everything is so nuts now, why not make fun of poop?
I honestly think that's why this commercial came to me at this time, because of where the country is. We don't want any BS. We all want to figure out what's real and what isn't. The Squatty Potty is in tune with the shift of this world.
What made the D-List work?
I don't think that show could actually be done today. I did that show hot on the heels of the Osbornes and Nick and Jessica. You can call Jeff Zucker -- it's his favorite story, because he got Kathy Griffin for no money -- we decided we were going to do a four-camera million-dollar-an-episode sitcom with me. Remember this was 1999. And then they came to see me at a little comedy club. And then they just said you know, because my act is so much based on who I run into, and where I go, and my mom, they said, "We think the sitcom should just be the camera following you around."
So it was all real?
It really was real. Now in reality shows you see people reading a prompter. I don't think I could ever do a reality show again, because now it's about churning and burning them so cheaply. With mine, my dad was who he was. My mom is still the same. It wasn't like "Housewives" where you take five women who do fistfights and force them to go on trips together.
So it's no longer possible to do reality in reality shows?
I have a weird group of friends. The people I actually hang with and have dinner with … people like Sidney Poitier, Lawrence Kasdan, obviously Gloria Vanderbilt is a friend of mine. I thought it might be funny to do a series where now Kathy is going to try to go to the same level as Sidney Poitier or Gloria Vanderbilt or Mick Jagger. But I don't know if a network would even let me do it, and if they'd really be real.
Bryan Cranston has endorsed this too.
Take a look at the website and you'll see a clip from "Live with Kelly," and she says, "Tell me about your anniversary." And he says, "I got my wife the perfect gift: a Squatty Potty." And everyone laughs. And it's funny.
I saw Bryan Cranston last Sunday, and told him, "You were kind of the deciding factor." And he goes: "I love that thing." You hear the words Squatty Potty, and it sounds scary. But then you hear the words Bryan Cranston, and you go, you know what, if it's good enough for Walter White, it's good enough for Kathy Griffin.
So this is really the toilet appliance of the stars at this point?
Well, I don't know about that. I think I'll be widely accepted in the highbrow medical community. I'll probably be asked to do a lot of speaking engagements at Scripps and Harvard Medical. I'm just saying as the face of Squatty Potty it pretty much makes me a physician.
After this, is there any product you would not endorse?
No. I think I said in one of my specials that I would fuck a donkey for a million dollars. Now I know your magazine; that's not really your kind of a tease. But, sure, there are products I wouldn't do.
You do feel you have to believe in it?
You know what my dad used to do? When he had a very successful bathroom experience, and keep in mind I'm the youngest of five kids and we had one bathroom. And my dad would have loved this product, because when he was in there, we would just hear him going like this, "Ahhh. Oh that was good. Now I can go on with my day." OK, now I won't say he wasn't a little tipsy. But I don't judge.
Why have you never done upfront presentations?
You want to hear something funny? I have never been A-List enough to do the upfronts. I have fucking eight Emmy nominations. I have two Emmys. I helped brand Bravo. I hosted an NBC game show. I have never been famous enough to go to upfronts. I've never had that moment where the head of the network is on stage at New York and says, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Kathy Griffin." Never. One time Bravo said, "We're not having you do upfronts, but we'd like you to perform for free at the cocktail party afterward."
What do you really think of Anderson Cooper?
Well, you know he wanted this campaign really bad. He wanted it so bad I had to rock him like a baby in my arms. Don't reach out to anybody to confirm the story.
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described Bravery as the production company behind Kmart's "Ship My Pants." Bravery co-founder Howie Ronay was part of the creative team on "Ship My Pants."