A public service announcement for a captive audience
Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 15, 2008
MARSHALL MCLUHAN BECAME FAMOUS for introducing the concept that the medium is the message. Mr. McLuhan is unlikely to have considered the possibility this medium would be combined with this message, however.
As the photo shows, the Hakodate Office of the Hokkaido police department has created special toilet paper with printed messages cautioning users against the ore-ore (“It’s me, it’s me”) telephone scam. That’s a type of fraud in which the grifter cons the recipient of the call into depositing money into his bank account by impersonating a relative (or a policeman or another official supposedly attending to that relative) in serious trouble and in need of immediate cash.
This toilet paper medium has several messages, two of which are: “Don’t go to the ATM right away”, and “Be careful of stories that sound too good.” The designers also included a picture of a squid to create a Japanese language pun. The word for “squid” is ika, and the word for “don’t go” is ikanaide. The message combines the picture of the squid with the “naide” written in one of the Japanese alphabets to create a type of rebus.
The police gave the toilet paper away for no charge at a conference kicking off a regional safety campaign held in Hakodate on the 11th, as well as at local crime prevention seminars. Don’t get your hopes up: It’s not available commercially.
The prefectural police said they thought employing something used every day in the home would be effective for preventing crime. (One wonders what other household items they considered before hitting on the idea of toilet paper,) They also said they purposely tried to create a clever public awareness campaign to combat fraud.
Some people like to take reading material into the loo with them, but toilet paper with a fraud awareness message sounds to me like an excellent excuse to buy a bidet.
At least that way, the medium would offer a massage instead of a message!
A look at the Hakodate website reveals that the city sent a delegation to the 4th Star-Shaped Citadel Cities Summit at Hellevoetsluis, The Netherlands, conducted from 8-11 July.
The first summit was held at Hakodate in 1997. Here’s that website.
Is there an international institute somewhere that offers government officials special instruction in ingenious but pointless ways to spend public funds?