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February 1, 2011 / JV

When Do We Object?: Ads in Mirrors

I wasn’t sure if this could be for real, but apparently it is. Advertisements on mirrors have been around for a few years now and according to CNN, we should be seeing a lot more of them in high-traffic restrooms in the U.S., namely in airports and sports stadiums.

Advertising mirrors are an ambient media solution to one of the major woes of capitalism: not enough advertisements in not enough places. With these mirrors, companies can advertise on (behind?) (inside of?) mirrors. It’s been a success in the restrooms of over 600 strategically selected bars and nightclubs in London, and companies in various countries are turning to advertising mirrors for creative ways to entice their target audiences.

The mirrors are specially made and installed, and — besides the whole ad-moving-around-in-your-face part — function just like regular mirrors. The ads are backlit and have the ability to (at least appear to) shrink, enlarge, and move around the frame. Some ads, like the ones to be installed in Chicago O’Hare International Airport, display a full-sized advertisement when not in use. Generally speaking, the mirrors have motion detecters, which, when movement is sensed, trigger an advertisement of some kind to either appear or disappear. As if we needed things to get any more obnoxious, some mirrors even have sound capabilities.

A few of the companies responsible for this obstruction of our right to be with ourselves, groom ourselves, or just be vain in relative privacy, include Addirect, Clear Channel Outdoor, and Mirrus. According to research for Addirect’s ever-so-cleverly-named Addmirror, the ads on these mirrors boast a recall rate of 63%, which is almost twice as much as TV and radio and over twice as much as billboard, newspaper and magazine. So basically, of 10 people, 6 and 1/3 of them who visited a restroom with an Addmirror were able to recall the specific advertiser.

So much for the restroom being the last bastion of, at least in our imaginations, some semblance of privacy. Next thing you know, there will be interactive touch-screen advertisements on the insides of stall doors. My question is: when do we object?

Nightmare, anyone? Or, perhaps, seven years of bad luck? ;) But you didn’t hear it from me.


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