Remember when trips to the bathroom meant taking care of, um, personal business while thumbing through Sports illustrated or the Victoria's Secret catalog (just for the articles, of course)?
You can wash that old-fashioned notion down the drain as you contemplate a different kind of bathroom business: a transparent toilet tank that allows a homeowner or commercial outlet to display decorative posters or marketing messages aimed at guests or customers taking the pause that refreshes.
The unit, which is bolted to your existing toilet base, consists of an inner tank that holds flushing water, a tank lid, and a clear shield that covers the front and sides of the tank. Posters are inserted into a slot at the top and bottom of the shield. Installation parts and one poster are included, as well as key locks on the lid for security.
The tank kit, which sells for $89.95, is green- and pocketbook-friendly too, with water-saving dual-flush valves, says Richard Quintana, president of Westminster, Calif.-based WOW Toilet, which sells the units.
"You can put a sports or holiday poster in the tank or a 'Happy Birthday Honey, I Love You' poster," Quintana said. "You can decorate your toilet to match the carpet."
Quintana, an engineer and water-conservation enthusiast, conceived the idea of transparent toilet tanks when imagining how helpful they would be in detecting leaks and checking the health of hidden toilet parts. So why not manufacture a see-through tank and use it for advertising?
Commercial enterprises, such as bars, nightclubs, restaurants and hotels can rent out toilet "billboard space," as it were, to local businesses that want to advertise happy hour, movies playing at neighborhood cinemas, sales at retail outlets and specials at the local diner. Up-close-and-personal advertising.
The tank has residential uses too. Why bother with those old-fashioned candies and flowers on anniversaries and birthdays when you can post romantic messages where your loved one is sure to see it? More than once.
For that matter, "why not just put an LCD unit in the tank?" says Pacific Sales plumbing salesman Mark Schlesinger. "A restaurant owner might find that a more interesting product." But wouldn't customers spend more time in the bathroom watching toilet TV than at the table eating?
Schlesinger added that he has compunctions about bolting a tank to the existing base of a toilet. No matter how well it's engineered, he says, "I'm afraid I wouldn't touch that concept with a 10-foot pole." Too many worries about tank-and-bowl compatibility.
Quintana has no such worries. "We spent three years designing, testing and manufacturing this product. No holes penetrate the tank. You can hit it with a hammer in the dead center and it won't break."
Call me old-fashioned, but I still want my Newsweek and Hallmark cards.
New toilet is flush with advertising, decorating ideas