I’m not completely unfamiliar with public restroom ads. I’ve seen many off-color ads for plumbing, good-time boys, and taxi cabs on the inside of bathroom stalls of bars and restaurants. Still, when I joined the intermission line of twenty women during a recent performance of Evita at the Gammage Theatre in Tempe, Arizona I was a little surprised a “serious” art venue had a blatant plumbing promotion.
There was a sign on the wall in the room usually reserved for female primping and private gossip. The sign before the “stall room” welcomed me and noted plumbing and art had a long history together. I noted the marketer’s savvy at preparing the “mark” for the message and I was curious. When it was at last my turn, I stepped before the sweltering bank of privately cordoned off toilets. Each one had a year on the front.
I went to the first available of course. What else does one do when eight stalls are designated for 3,000 women to use in fifteen minutes? I walked into 1770. On the inside of the door it read that Beethoven used E flat major key for his bold, heroic Grand Sonata and the Erotica Symphony. Isn’t it a lovely coincidence, the message continued, that E flat major is the key for flushing toilets?
This was new information to a person who really never connected musical tones to toilet
plumbing and there was something a bit disarming about it. Now here was a creative use and stretch of the marketing mind to find a niche for a client. Something I appreciated. How much, I wondered, did George Brazil Plumbing pay for this?
There wasn’t much time or opportunity during the intermission to read all I would have liked, but I was able to snap this information from the 1380 stall. “Geoffrey Chaucer penned The Miller’s Tale (part of his Canterbury Tales), which contains several incidents of “toilet” or “off-color” humor, proving that bathroom jokes are as old as time itself (or at least nearly 700 years old).”
Then it finishes, because there’s got to be a punch for the client, “Of course, there’s nothing funny when there’s a problem with your home’s plumbing.” George Brazil Plumbing.
At home I reread The Miller’s Tale and it was a vaudevillian, bawdy tale. Someone did a little research on this well-placed ad with a captive audience, and I’ll remember George Brazil Plumbing.