Creator behind Charmin's toilet products explains why they're not gimmicks

The headline-grabbing tech was center-focus at CES.

Yes, CES is over. But what kind of journalists would we be without celebrating the toilet roll bot? 

Jokes aside, Charmin stormed the CES floor in Las Vegas last week for product innovation that may appear gimmicky to the untrained eye, but gave us an exciting heads-up of what's in store for our future bathroom breaks. 

The Procter & Gamble brand, which worked with Saatchi & Saatchi NY, showed the world three fun inventions: RollBot, which delivers toilet paper when you’re stuck on the toilet; Smellsense, an electronic nose to detect bad odours as a warning to steer clear and; V.I.Pee, which uses VR and 360 live streaming to help toilet-bound concerts-goers know when their favorite song is about to come on. 

Yifei Chai, innovation architect at UNIT9, the company that worked with P&G on the products, said: "Yes, these innovations may seem like gimmicks to people of a more cynical persuasion. And yes, they have given a toilet paper brand a voice at a major technology show. But these prototypes aren’t solely about PR – they’re about early experimentations in addressing real consumer needs, albeit in a fun way. 

"A CES reporter asked me why I think the Charmin booth pretty much stole the show at CES. The answer lies in a combination of practical relatable issues, the universality of toilet humour and the fact that all our prototypes worked physically, making them ideal for capturing and sharing across social: a trifecta that strikes marketing gold in an age where it’s hard to stand out."

Chai explained that what may superficially appear to be a flippant gadget has been developed by serious engineers and "ultra talented CX people and the sharpest designers."

Regardless of whether or not you brand these products gimmicky, Chai said you can't argue with the fact that it's powerful marketing.

The creator added: "These are teams that are not only capable of creating Instagramable and shareable moments, but also adept at building unique products that genuinely have no precedent. For brands that are prepared to leap into the unknown and go the extra mile, these fun innovations sow the seeds of future disruption. And if Charmin’s positive and extensive CES press coverage is anything to go by, they are also a masterstroke of modern marketing."

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