As plagues swarm across the globe, civil warfare spreads and terrorist strikes threaten, Charmin toilet paper is making its own foray into humanitarian efforts, with what its parent company is pitching as a big "relief" effort.
On Sunday, just in time for the game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, thousands of football faithful with full bladders will be able to flush away their problems - for free - at O.Co Coliseum in 20 high-end "porta-potties" courtesy of Proctor & Gamble.
The mission of "Charmin's Relief Project" is to "surprise and delight people with a more enjoyable go," Proctor & Gamble spokeswoman Laura Dressman said in a phone interview this week without missing a beat. "Anytime, anywhere."
As part of the company's aid to partying tailgaters guzzling down beers and scarfing hot nachos, the portable toilets - really, upscale restrooms built into custom trailers that are about the size of a tiny Manhattan apartment - are traveling cross-country to football games. So now, Raiders fans will have a choice of toilets to use, the standard porta-potties in the parking lot, or the luxury loos trucked in especially for this one game.
The potties debuted Denver on Sept. 5, when the Broncos played the Baltimore Ravens. Actor George Clooney's ex-girlfriend and NFL cheerleader, Stacy Keibler, cut the ribbon.
Taking the fancy potties to Oakland was long planned - even before sewage issues reared their head during recend Oakland A's baseball games at the coliseum, where the A's and Raiders share a parking lot. The toilet project is part of a business partnership between Charmin and the National Football League.
The next stops for the trailer toilets are on Nov. 10 for when the New York Giants play the Oakland Raiders, and then later in the season to Dallas, Dressman said.
Unfortunately, she added, A's fans won't get a chance to use the toilets, they'll be whisked away right after the Raiders play.
These are not your Grandma's porta-potties. There are flat-screen satellite TVs in each room along with Japanese-style sinks and fresh flower arrangements. Greeters attend your every need. And, of course, the full array of Charmin products - three types of toilet paper and plush paper toweling (ultra soft, ultra strong, sensitive) - is just an arm's reach away. Each restroom is 64 square feet and some even have chandeliers and pure-white wainscoting.
Similar Charmin-inspired restrooms have been rolled out before. The idea began in 2000 with "Potty Palooza," a 27-room bathroom facility that traveled to 15 state fairs across the country, including a visit in 2003 to the San Diego Super Bowl. The New York Times noted that the gimmick seemed to work; Charmin sales spiked after that.
In 2006, the loos opened in New York City's Times Square, offering free flushes to the public from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. Broadway star Joey Fatone took the first ceremonial flush.
Dressman wouldn't say how much each custom-designed potty cost. But she quickly added that they are free for fans to use, and don't cost cities a dime for their temporary installation.