A few weeks back, my husband and I took an impromptu trip to
New York. It was our first time in the Big Apple and we had many attractions on
our must-see list, as well as a few attractions we stumbled upon while we were
there. What I didn’t expect to make the list was a restroom, but in my line of
work, I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise, either.
For those of you who have never been to Manhattan, you
should know that, in my opinion, it is possibly one of the most difficult
places to find a clean restroom available to the public. That is, with the
exception of when Procter & Gamble’s Charmin plants itself in the middle of
Times Square for a month during the holiday season.
Right there in the middle of one of the advertising capitals
of the world, toilet tissue was on display, surrounded by the likes of MTV,
ESPN and The New York Times. To entice people, staff dressed as toilets roamed
the area. Honestly, though, most didn’t need the enticement. With clean
facilities a rare commodity in the area, there was always a line and an
energetic staff welcoming visitors.
I have no idea what it costs to rent space in Times Square,
but the message was certainly not lost. Not only where the giant billboards and
toilet mascots hard to miss, but people were talking about it all around the
area, and it was hard not to. Inside, there were 20 individual restrooms (not
stalls) that were cleaned after every use. In each restroom, there were iPods
and televisions playing videos. For those waiting on their friends or family,
there were photo ops with a giant toilet and play areas where kids could jump
in the Charmin (similar to a ball pit, but filled with toilet tissue). It was a
restroom like no other, and it was free.
The bonus features were impressive, but for me, not
necessary. The fact that you saw how clean these restrooms were provided a
sense of security as patrons comfortably hung jackets, bags and such on the
back of doors. Stock never ran low and the friendly staff also kept the line moving.
It was a refreshing change from other restrooms throughout Manhattan, which
were only available to store or restaurant patrons and didn’t appear to be very
According to a brand manager for Charmin, Procter &
Gamble has been providing a free and clean restroom for tourists and local New
Yorkers to “enjoy the go” for four consecutive years. With any luck, they’ll
continue doing it.
Read more about this here.
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