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Gauri Yardi
01 Mar, 2024

Recently, I visited a poop museum.

It was less a fascinating foray into faeces facts and more a cute, colourful, very Japanese celebration of ‘kawaii unko’, or ‘cute poop.’

The Unko Museum begins with a guided pooping experience. Volunteers sit (fully clothed, thank God!) on colourful toilets and strain together until a plastic poop that resembles a faceless, brightly coloured version of the poop emoji appears in the toilet bowl (cuter and less creepy than it sounds).

The volunteers are then encouraged to put the poop on a stick and take it home, because why not?

A collage of three images side by side: the leftmost picture is of a neon sign that says 'Unko Museum' outlined by a cartoonish poop. The middle picture is of a magazine display stand. The illuminated sign above the display rack says 'Unko Museum' with a stylised pink poop above it. The magazines in the rack are all the same – they are called 'Poop Teen' and feature mint green poops on the cover. The final picture is of a giant cobalt blue poop statue with lighter blue scribbles of light on it. The coloured plastic balls on the sides of the image suggest the statue is in a ball pit, which it is.

As you move further into the bowels of the exhibition (sorry, couldn’t resist), you get to enjoy such delights as:

  • a ball pit with a giant, illuminated poop statue in the middle (and yet the balls were just ordinary balls, not plastic poops – a missed opportunity!)
  • an ‘Unko mart’ stocked with poop-themed products (display only – sadly, those Poop Teen magazines must remain where they are), and
  • a room full of furry, animatronic poop animals whose tails gently wag when you pat them (my personal favourite).

A collage of three images side by side: The leftmost image is of a furry poop animal with a big fluffy tail – the animal is light green. At the right edge of the picture you see two similar poop animals in orange. The middle picture is of a sign that features a pink furry poop animal, which tells us the animal is named Riko. The sign says: Genus: Poopingus treeclimbingus. A poop Animal found in trees. It often has puffy cheeks from stuffing down walnuts. This message is translated into Japanese below the English. The third picture is of a display of cans at the Unko Mart. On the left are yellow cans stacked in a pyramid against a yellow cardboard poop background. On the right is the same, but everything is blue. Both displays are on a baby pink ledge. The wall beneath has white poop emojis stencilled on it.

But what really makes an impact, for better or worse, is the screaming room.

Yes, the screaming room.

The room is small and dark, equipped with three microphones and a screen covering one wall. On the screen is a message encouraging you to scream “poop” as loudly as you can in order to grow a massive digital turd.

The louder and longer you scream, the more likely your poop is to grow to the height of a giraffe, a T-Rex or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It’s all good fun, I suppose, except for one major flaw.

As a Google reviewer named meow put it: ‘Need to soundproof the screaming room. Who wouldn’t soundproof it?’


A screenshot of a Google review for the Unko Museum from someone named meow whose userpic is a white cartoon cat against a baby pink background. meow gives the museum 3 stars, and reads: Went to the place today, look, if I'm honest it's not a BAD experience, it's just a bit boring and basic, shouldn't be called a museum. Had a few rooms for taking photos only, a weird room where you pet poo themed animals, which was a bit empty, and a little game area which was also empty and didn't have enough variety in games. Great for kids, need to soundproof the screaming room, who wouldn't sound proof it? Not really similar to the Japan one. Get a plastic poo to keep but why plastic? Should have been a squishy instead of charing $5 for a poo squishy. Staff were nice, experience was just a bit lacking overall. PS, prices are not worth it.

Yes, there is nothing to muffle the screams. The room doesn’t even have a door.

While, on my visit at least, a certain portion of museum patrons were drawn to the room by the screaming (mostly kids), a larger portion were actively repelled by it.

Some people retreated to quieter rooms, while others ‘flushed’ themselves from the museum entirely.

Watching this play out got me thinking about marketing communications.

When you hear your competitors (metaphorically) screaming, it’s tempting to think, “I guess I’d better scream, too”. You might see a competitor’s advertising campaign, for example, and think, “that seems to be working for them; I’d better do something similar.”

While of course it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your competitors, this approach to communications can make you part of the noise, indistinguishable from other brands.

Worse still, you may even end up with messaging that appeals to other marketers while repelling almost everyone else, including potential patients, clients and customers.

And, as more and more brands add their voice to the ‘caca-phony’ (sorry), you end up part of a Leaning Tower of Pisa-sized pile of poop.

So, how do you make sure you don’t end up with sh*tty comms?

Get some help from the experts.

As an agency with over 25 years of experience working with a range of healthcare brands across a variety of projects – from advertising campaigns to online learning resources – we can help you cut through the noise.

Contact us and let’s make sure your next project doesn’t stink.

Gauri Yardi, Senior writer at Wellmark. Connect with me on LinkedIn