People’s Champion Finalist: Captive Media
Meet the fast-growing interactive washroom media company competing for the Startups Awards People’s Champion title– does it get your vote?
Start-up name: Captive Media
Founder: Gordon MacSween, 47, Mark Melford, 45
Started in: 2012
Based in: Chelmsford, Essex
Business description: Interactive washroom media
When they first started talking about their business idea people thought they were taking the… You can easily complete the sentence, because they were doing precisely what you’re thinking – turning the experience of urinating into an advertising medium.
The story goes that Gordon MacSween said “imagine if there was a video game you could control with your pee”.
Capturing the young male consumer’s attention has been the holy grail of advertising for many a year, amid growing disengagement from traditional media. But for that moment the advertiser would have their undivided attention. It was a problem Mark Melford had constantly heard from the UK’s largest media firms he was advising – how can that audience be engaged?
It led to a long period of research and development before Melford and MacSween were in a position to launch the “world’s first interactive washroom media”, with patented technology picking up on the direction of the wee and transmitting it to the gaming screen facing the player.
Advertisers have the option to either brand existing games or appear on a digital advert in the background loop of content. Such has been the interest, brands like Lynx, Captain Morgan, and Dr Dre’s Beats have signed up, as have campaigns such Drinkaware, with a multiple choice quiz called ‘Clever Dick’ to convey facts about alcohol use. Campaigns for prostate cancer and Macmillan Cancer too have made their way into the men’s loos.
What many might perceive as a ‘fun’ business has a serious commercial side too and the British-designed and manufactured units have been exported to 12 countries, including the USA, Spain, France, Italy and even Russia.
Three of London’s top ad agencies have requested installations of the units into their offices and predictably, the business has generated a huge amount of media coverage, as well as making it into the syllabus material of renowned business school INSEAD.
Why Captive Media made our 50:
With three angel-backed funding rounds and operating in venues worldwide Captive Media is not a company to be scoffed at. Absolutely unique, the business is now beginning to motor after years of pre-launch hard work.