Since the sanctity of the restroom has long since been breached by display ad cases perched insolently and obtrusively at eye level above urinals in many a way station, one of the last public spaces left where a modern guy can gather his thoughts in relatively unmarketed peace is the gas station. Sure, there are little cardboard signs urging you to pick up some Diet Coke and inorganic doughnuts in the station’s mini-mart, but if you pay at the pump you don’t have to go inside, and you can easily do your business without ever taking note of these modest little importunities.
Who hasn’t spent his average of three minutes securing liquid freedom, staring at azure skies overhead, musing on epistemology or last night’s ball game, high-octane gasoline surging manfully from pump to tank, fuel nozzle firmly grasped in a symbolic handshake with the Spirit of Personal Mobility?
Well, now you can flush this lone remaining bastion of contemplative calm down the for-customers-only, get-key-from-attendant toilet, as NBC Universal Television Stations group and VST Media Network are partnering to deliver customized local news, weather, sports and entertainment video, and headlines to on-pump screens at gas stations in markets with NBC owned-and-operated stations.
A program lasting three minutes, cobbled from local NBC newscasts in each market and updated twice daily, will be triggered when the fuel nozzle is lifted. And of course there’s room for advertising — State Farm Insurance and Tropicana are the first companies to sign on.
VST currently has video screens at 17 Shell gas stations in Los Angeles, and says it will expand to up to 500 stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego this year, as well as stations in markets across the country with NBC-owned stations.
There is no escape.