BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- After nearly a decade of providing free, clean public restrooms everywhere from state fairs to Times Square, Procter & Gamble Co.'s Charmin wants consumers to find their own -- via a free mobile social-networking utility, SitOrSquat.
|Charmin's Sit or Squat iPhone app|
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The wiki -- housed on the web at SitOrSquat.com and available as a mobile application for BlackBerry and iPhone -- launched in December with the goal of turning the digital masses into a mobile army of restroom reviewers. It both helps locate public restrooms and provides star ratings based on their cleanliness and other amenities.
Charmin can't be accused of just trying to sell toilet paper: Unlike major rivals, it doesn't have a commercial-bathroom business. Rather, it's just another effort at nontraditional branding, a la the Times Square restrooms the brand has provided the past three holiday seasons; the mobile Pottypalooza program it ran from 2003 to 2005; or the "Charminizing" program in which it cleaned up public restrooms at state fairs starting in 2000.
As of last month, SitOrSquat had logged more than 52,000 toilets in 10 countries, more than half a million unique visitors and more than 1,600 downloads of its mobile apps. All those numbers are growing rapidly, and Charmin hopes publicity regarding its sponsorship helps them grow faster, said P&G spokesman Dewayne Guy.
As of today, a bottom-wagging Charmin cartoon bear graces the home page of SitOrSquat.com, though the brand image hasn't been incorporated into the app.
'Same experience away from home'
"We've been doing this idea of trying to give consumers the same experience away from home as they get at home for years," Mr. Guy said. "This fits into that whole concept that you're on the go, there's some tension there; Charmin is playing hero."
It's not always easy to find a public restroom, he noted, particularly in New York, and particularly in Times Square at holiday time.
Indeed, with Starbucks starting to close stores, it's getting a little harder.
This is the first time a toilet-paper brand has partnered with a downloadable mobile application, P&G said in its release. Other relevant potential mobile applications may not immediately spring to mind, other than perhaps text alerts when the roll is running low at home. But the technology doesn't exist yet for that.