Photo: Jordan and Bryan Silverman
Just when you thought advertisers had put branding on just about everything, brothers Jordan and Bryan Silverman, 22 and 19, infiltrated a new and untapped market: They’re selling ad space on toilet paper.
This isn’t the first time companies have toyed with creative ways to use toilet paper.
Shitter will print your Twitter feed on toilet paper rolls, and Modernista enabled people in the Netherlands to wipe their behinds with Alec Baldwin’s mug on a 30 Rock toilet paper promotion.
But Star Toilet Paper isn’t looking to be a fad. The two brothers have already signed 55 local businesses and have been seeing positive results.
The bathroom is the perfect spot for targeting specific demographics.
First of all, men and women are already separated, so Star Toilet Paper can have a set of rolls for each.
And they can target different demographic groups, too, such as 'a public library different from Ann Arbor college demo'--Star Toilet Papers beta-group--'because it caters to lots of children, families and senior citizens,' Bryan said. 'So we are targeting companies that want that demographic in Westchester.'
At first companies would laugh him off the phone for suggesting buying ad space on toilet paper rolls. A local pizza shop hung up on him before hearing the full pitch. But one eventually bit.
The first advertiser was a pet store called Fish Doctors that specialises in hundreds of kinds of fish.
Jordan brought over a demo-role, 'and they thought it was hilarious,' he said. 'They were throwing roles with each other and the owner actually bought an ad for two free goldfish.'
The plan is simple: local companies, primarily in Ann Arbor, can buy 20 thousand ads (on 150 rolls) for $99.
The first toilet paper prototype debuted in May 2012 at a University of Michigan apartment complex. Unsurprisingly, the college kids loved it.
Each roll has a series of eight images—seven for companies, one explaining how to redeem the coupon—that is repeated 120 times on a 100-sheet role.
To minimize waste (and toilet paper hoarding), consumers can scan a QR code and redeem the coupon online.
This way the Silvermans can track the online download rate and even how many people cash in on the coupon.
'We're still measuring actual download rates, but for our May test run we saw companies get almost 30 coupon downloads in a single month,' Jordan said.
Jordan and Bryan give boxes of rolls to local theatres, restaurants, gyms, etc. across Ann Arbor. The store gets free toilet paper, and the boys get visibility.
Although some participating stores report confused employees receiving wads of toilet paper coupons.
'Obviously if you work at a restaurant, you aren't expecting to be handed toilet paper,' Jordan said.
Right now Star Toilet Paper is working with 55 local businesses including Ben & Jerry's and Smoothie King. And they can guarantee industry-wide exclusivity, so you won't see more than one pizza place coupon on a roll.
But the company is getting some help. An economic development organisation called Ann Arbor SPARK helped Star Toilet Paper get a $3,000 grant to help with patent expenses.
The company has also been named a finalist in Entrepreneur magazine's College Entrepreneur of 2012 contest.
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