The Uber of pooping
What if I told you that the “Uber of pooping” was upon us, and that I’m being 100 percent serious?
Part viral marketing effort, part test drive of a future service offering, Charmin’s Van-GO campaign might be the funniest marketing you see all year.
Those who live and/or work in Manhattan can call Charmin’s Van-GO service to have an on-demand mobile bathroom meet them where they need to be. Yep, you read that right.
When number two comes calling, you can call Van-GO to the rescue.
How it works
LifeHacker’s Nick Douglas bravely shared his experience with the service, so we know how it works. Through a web page, you can request the van meet you where you are, though wait time and lagging in the geo tagging can disrupt this on-demand experience.
Once the van arrives, you are ushered into what Douglas calls “one of the nicest public bathrooms in Manhattan,” complete with full plumbing, pleasant décor, reading material and a music mix of topical tunes like “Tootsee Roll” by the 69 Boyz.
You still can’t make this up, by the way.
You have to give Charmin points for creativity. You really do.
And you also have to give them points for leaning into what is generally a taboo subject in Western culture, unless put it in the context of a joke on Family Guy. As Douglas points out, the company don’t shy away from the topic, but they are careful to use gently puns like “hold tight” and “gotta go” in their communications, rather than some of the more explicit nouns you might otherwise use regarding a certain bodily movement.
That act of “leaning in” does result in plenty of earned media, even if that media begins with the sentence, “Charmin Tried to Make Me Poop In A Van.” Perhaps that’s to be expected when you’re pushing cultural boundaries. This also seems to be an outlier; a Google search for ‘Charmin Van Go” leads to a string of generally positive (and pun-filled) coverage. Furthermore, even if some are uncomfortable with the idea of a crowd of crowning New Yorkers anxiously waiting for you to finish your business in a van, that discomfort is a strong reminder of the value of privacy in our society.
In short, well-played, Charmin. Well-played.