Posts Tagged ‘toilets’

Dear Robyn,

Unless you are like me and have the memory of a goldfish (ooh! never been here before, ooh! never been here before…) you’ll remember a short tad ago I wrote a post on The #1 Purpose of a Website in which I bleated on about Narnia and mothballs and inspiration. Afterwards Blair Stevenson (who has his own cool blog on leadership) pasted up this comment:

“While inspiration is good, as is creating something people truly believe in, I’m not sure that they are necessary to make a sale. I’m not sure that manufacturers of toilet tissue or socks, or providers of legal services or petrol ever truly inspired anyone but they seem to make a reasonable living. It seems better to actually fulfill/address a need your target audience actually has.”

This reminded me of something funny that happened to me recently. I needed to go to the supermarket to buy *bog rolls and a toothbrush. Uninspiring items. Now, this is a bit of a mission for me because I am one of those people who is a disappointment to Market Researchers:

“Are you the main household shopper?”

Nope! Not a chance. I hate supermarket shopping with a vengence. It bores me rigid. The faster I can go into a Foodtown and come out the other side with only the things I planned to buy (ahem!) the better. Preferably at midnight also when there are no mass queues of people or trolley jams to negotiate. There’s something strangely megalomaniacal about having a whole supermarket to yourself too, as if they especially cleared out the whole place just for you.

Anyway, I don’t really like supermarkets and don’t spend much time in them so I also unsurprisingly have no idea what is in them either. The other day I decided I wanted to get a new toothbrush. So I went to what I thought was the appropriate isle and wandered up and down looking for them.

Razors… soap… shampoo… face wash… Christmas decorations (wtf? it’s a bit early for Xmas isn’t it?)… cotton wool…

That’s weird. No toothbrushes. Bit strange in the bathroom isle. So I looked again.

Razors… soap… shampoo… face wash… Christmas decorations… cotton wool…

Definitely not there. Hmmm. So I asked someone to point them out. OK so those aren’t decorations! Clearly I had been looking for the wrong thing. A toothbrush by my definition is a plastic stick with some bristles bunged unceremoniously in one end. It does a pretty good job of keeping your teeth clean despite it’s uninspired mundanity and once it’s retired from duty it does a not bad job of cleaning soap scum off the basin taps.

Well, how uneducated I am! That’s not what a toothbrush is anymore. No. A toothbrush, apparently is a vehicle into the 11th dimension, and it has the flashing spaceship lights to prove it.  No wonder I thought Christmas had come early. Toothbrushes are sparkling things designed by aliens. You get an infinite array to pick from –  ones with 390 degree revolving heads that have handles that bend like a slinky,  battery powered vibrating ones with bristles pointing everywhere at mathematically impossible angles, every possible combination of psychodelic fluorescent colours combined in swirly patterns and embedded with more glitter and bling than Lady Gaga has costume changes. Some come with alarm clocks. Others with backing lights. You can even get toothbrushes for toddlers that come with training wheels or scary talking monster heads. And they don’t appear to be made from plastic anymore but some sort of space age coagulated extraterrestrial ectoplasm. The best thing of all – they come with a write up on the packaging that promises that if you buy one it will solve all your life problems for you. Don’t believe me? Well go stand in front of the toothbrush stand and see for yourself – just don’t forget your sunglasses.

And that is not all. After being blinded by the toothbrushes I had to go get some bog rolls. Now surely these would truly be boring and uninspired. Wrong again. All I wanted was a classic roll of toilet tissue. How hard can that be? But they don’t seem to exist anymore.

First off you have to identify the packaging. You know, on nappy packets they put a picture of a cutesy baby. On bogs rolls they put pictures of cutesy puppies. Eh? You could be well forgiven for thinking they are a product designed especially for dealing with puppy poop! Once you figure out it is actually toilet paper and not a pet product you have the same mind bending variety to decide on. What do you want to do today?  Visit a perfumery in France? Take a trip to the beach with the blue starfishies and dolphins? Teach your kid to count out bits of bog roll with doggy footprints? Play Sudoku? Read your starsign? Admire the new softness of the latest breathable, micro-weave, quilted paper? Your bog roll will deliver. What will come out next? Bog rolls for the old and senile with instructions for use on every single sheet or the days of the week? (“Today is Monday, perforation, Today is Tuesday, perforation, Today is Wed… oh for Pete’s sake just pick one, they’re all the same these days anyway!”)

So getting back to Blair’s original comment, it is true that many manufacturers never inspire anyone and still make a profit. But it’s kind of cool when they do otherwise life would be pretty bland and it’s far to short not to have fun. Inspiration isn’t necessary to make a sale – but someone sure as hell forgot to tell the toothbrush and bog roll people that!

Morgan 🙂

PS: Oh, and am I inspired by my new toothbrush? Well, yes I am actually. It’s pretty superduper and  I like it so much I’m considering buying a whole box of them now before they go out of fashion in a week’s time to make room for the next model – a multi-dimensional space wonder with warp speed hyperdrive, 16GB hard drive and beam me up Scotty functionality.

*bog rolls = rolls of toilet paper

Image by Andrej Troha

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Dear Morgan,

I read your last letter with interest about the purpose of the websites, and I agree with you that a website’s sole purpose shouldn’t be just to collect emails. I also think it’s the experience of the website that is the most important thing.

So, as a market researcher in another life, I decided to troll the internet to further give examples as why email addresses would not be the most important thing for a website, and this is what I found…

1). Rune’s Barf Bag Experience.

So let’s ask the most basic question here. What would be the point in collecting email addresses for this website? It’s a barfbag collection! Why anyone would want to collect these things I don’t know. I only hope that he manages to collect clean unused ones, and they haven’t been ‘recycled’ in any way. Gawd – there’s a shop so you can buy them, AND there’s even a swap page. I can see it now – hey – I have 3 barf bags from United Airlines – I’m willing to swap them for one from Singapore Airlines! Honestly, it’s enough to make you.. well Barf!

In my opinion then. Importance of collecting emails? zero
Overall website experience? Stumped and confused.

2). The oo
Lets go to the question here again. What would be the point in collecting emails for this website. Actually, the question for this website should be.. What is the POINT of this website? It’s all about oo, whatever that may be. People are even invited to go in and write their own ‘oo’ What’s even more scary is that people actually do. Should these people even be allowed to procreate? I further googled ‘oo’ in Wikipaedia and I got a list of things that oo actually meant. Sadly, just as I thought, the oo website had nothing to do with any of them.

Importance of collecting emails? Zero
Overall website experience? Ummmmmmmm

3). Elevator Rules
Well what can I say? Rules for Elevators? I’ve used lots of elevators in my life, but never knew there were ‘rules’. It gives rules such as.. ‘Never, under any circumstances urinate or defecate in an elevator. It is not, and never will be considered funny by anyone.’
Do people actually do this? Defecate I mean? In an Elevator? Did they mistake it for a toilet? Do we even need to know about this? Do we need to collect email addresses for it? Gawd – you can even buy this book of rules. And stickers too. To place on the jacket of the people that defecate so they too learn the rules. But what’s scary about this is there’s a whole website for this. So now you know!

Importance of collecting emails? Zero
Overall website Experience? ‘0.0’ Unbelievable. What about ‘Common Sense’?

4). Urinals – The best urinals in the world, gathered here in one website
Okaaaaaaaaay. Do people actually go into that website and decide to travel based on the urinals? Does the website owner have errrrrrm, a fixation with mens toilets? Do we need to collect email addresses for this? What would be the purpose, to email everyone when he finds another ‘urinal’? Imagine… ‘Dear everyone, I was in Mexico City, in the main street, and found a really neat urinal in Joey’s Bar – you should all go and piss in this one for the best experience ever’. Hmmmmmm I don’t think so!

Importance of collecting emails? Zero
Overall Website Experience? Didn’t do anything for me – but would love a man’s take on this – anyone up for the job?

5). Pets in Uniforms

Okay – this is just plain nuts. I know that women sometimes have a fetish for men in uniform. I mean – that’s just plain sexy. Especially Policemen. And Fireman. And Air Pilots. Okay okay – Too much information – if you value your life don’t turn up at my door dressed like a policeman! Or Fireman. Or pilot!! But PETS? PETS? That’s taking the fetish a bit far. I could image it if it were a sheep and you invited farmers far and wide in Australia. But cats? Sigh. Why would it be important to collect emails for this site? By the way – right now there is a holiday special on and you can get your pet made up in full regalia for only $19.99. I think Morgan should send in a photo of her budgie and see what they do to it! They should dress it up like Tiger Woods as it’s a very amorous one! Just think, she could then watch Tiger Woods in action 10 times a day. I’m not talking about his golf!

Importance of collecting emails: Five , but only because they’ll send something back to you, and you might want to know of the specials so you can dress up your cats, dogs, horses, sheep, goats, and maybe your husband.
Overall Website Experience? Chortle!

Okay – I think you get the gist now – I could go on – there’s so many weird sites out there. I hope I’ve made my point.

Cheers
Robyn