Online retail giant Amazon has an ad campaign in store for captive audiences who use public restroom stalls in malls across the nation, because… well, why not?
In perhaps one of the oddest (and shameless) attempts at revenue generation, e-commerce site Amazon has partnered with Proctor & Gamble to install ads in mall restroom stalls which will (finally) give restroom patrons the ability to use their smart phones to get coupon savings on everyday toiletries like, um, toilet paper.
Just saw on the news, they're coming out with 'Stall Mall' this will allow you to shop and shit at the same time….lol wut?
— Alan Vivian (@alanvivian) December 4, 2014
“Once you sit down in one of the stalls,” The Today Show explains, “an ad wrapping the back of the door invites you to download the Amazon App and displays the barcodes for coupons for several bathroom-appropriate items. Use the app to scan the barcodes and place your order.”
The ads are set to hit mall bathrooms in the trendiest parts of New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Seattle.
One detail overlooked by the ad campaign’s planners is the fact that very few want to spend any extended period of time within filthy public restrooms, virtual shopping cart or not.
Just how filthy are public bathrooms? One study found thousands of species of bacteria living on multiple commonly touched restroom surfaces, such as door and toilet handles and toilet seats.
Add to that other studies which have found cell phones to actually be dirtier than toilet seats, being home to “hazardous” levels of bacteria including the deadly E. coli, and you have a recipe for unsanitary disaster.
While seemingly innocent enough, Amazon’s “stall malls” may signal we are hurtling headlong into the creepy, ad-dominated society depicted in the screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report.
“Of course the artistic intention is always going to go straight over the heads of some people, including, it seems, today’s real life technological executives who are developing the exact same kind of devices the iconic author imagined would plague shopping malls of the future,” Steve Watson wrote regarding the film.
Indeed, aside from “stall malls,” today’s ads are already reaching the level of invasiveness witnessed in the 2002 movie.
In 2010, IBM announced it was looking into billboards which would produce customized adverts for people by scanning RFID chips already embedded in many credit cards and cell phones.
Bus depots in London took that idea one step further when they unveiled billboards equipped with high-definition face-scanning cameras which customize ads for passengers based on gender. “As this technology continues to be applied to the field of advertising, the computer could also make a judgement about a person’s age, race or body type,” reported Digital Trends.
But by far the most bizarre idea for ad placement came out of Germany last year, where media company Sky Deutschland devised a way to broadcast commercials and other announcements directly into train passengers’ heads as they lean against the window.
“Tired commuters often rest their heads against windows. Suddenly a voice inside their head is talking to them. No one else can hear this message,” an ad introducing the “talking window” declares.
The one saving grace regarding Amazon’s new ad venture is that Today show hosts reacted with disgust to news of the “stall malls,” with host Matt Lauer declaring he would likely not take Amazon up on their offer.
“I’m not in there long enough. I don’t linger,” the long-time NBC host said.