Potty Mouth

SOME PEOPLE THINK ADVERTISING is good for nothing but the garbage can. Now, it looks like the garbage can is, in fact, good for advertising. Thanks to New York's decision to allow advertisements to be placed on 300 trash containers along Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the sanitation department soon will be the recipient of some much-needed funds.

According to City Media Concepts, which developed the square “Receptasigns,” 1,200 different advertisers should be able to reach New Yorkers with their “street-level kiosks.” But more important, City Media Concepts will be paying a minimum fee plus a percentage of the advertising revenue to the sanitation department and Times Square Business Improvement District.

Certainly, some people won't like the garbage can ads, but wait until they get wind of the newest advertising medium: public bathrooms. Just as we've almost forgotten about the Tidy Bowl Man, Turner Broadcasting recently announced that it will be placing talking advertisements in bar bathrooms in 500 cities. So far, the ads will only run during football season. But if bathroom ads are successful, I'm sure marketing executives will become flush with new ideas.

Finding creative spaces for advertising is nothing new. For example, Charlotte, N.C.-based Government Acquisitions recently began seeking endorsements to help cities and counties pay for new public vehicles. In exchange for allowing advertising on vehicles such as fire safety trucks, communities will be able to purchase cars and the like for just $1 each.

Critics of the program think such messages have no place on city property because cops might show preferential treatment to people whose ads are on their police vehicles. But people have been plastering their messages on trash trucks for years, and Bound Brook, N.J., is expected to receive about $600,000 worth of vehicles — including a garbage truck — for $8 because of the deal.

Ad space is being made available on city property to help solve short-term budget problems. So in deciding whether to allow advertising such as the Golden Arches on a new garbage truck, communities will need to weigh a message's tact, taste and benefits. Propaganda on police cars may not be so bad if the message is for a local Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. And thigh-high signs may not be so tacky when the garbage cans are appearing in Times Square, which already is lit-up by several illuminated billboards.

Like my dad taught me about swearing, every message has an appropriate time and place. And darn it, even I'm willing to admit that this is perhaps one idea that should go straight on — not in — the trash bin.

The author is the editor of Waste Age