Do William Figlesthaler ads set American standard or flush campaign money away?
Dr. William Figlesthaler

Dr. Fig Urinal
Naples urologist reaches for voters through urinal screens.

Looking for something else to read in the bathroom? Try the political ad at the bottom of the urinal.

Congressional candidate William Figlesthaler’s most recent ads appeared below the belt, not for messaging but location. Red, white and blue urinal screens in Hertz Arena pitch voters in search of a sense of relief.

“READY TO DRAIN THE SWAMP?” the plastic placards ask. “VOTE DR. FIG 2020 FOR CONGRESS.”

It’s the latest unorthodox marketing move from Figlesthaler’s outsider campaign. The physician, called Dr. Fig in all his advertising, already diagnosed Washington as “sick” and pundits “spineless” in a video ad.

But will his message resonate when shouted from the beyond the rim of a toilet?

Christopher Osborne, of Landslyde Digital, runs accounts for Figlesthaler’s campaign and thought the idea made sense. Figlesthlaler works by day as a urologist, so why not?

“It will be controversial, but he’s outside the norm in everything he’s doing,” Osborne said.

The Naples doctor is one of eight declared Republicans aiming to succeed U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. The field includes Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, state Reps. Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle and Heather Fitzenhagen, former New York mayoral candidate Darren Dione Aquino, former Minnesota Rep. Dan Severson and professional commentator Ford O’Connell.

That means he will have to stand out from a large crowd, but in a fragmented field with a constituency who has favored outsiders in the past.

Not everyone sees wisdom in the restroom ad buy.

Tampa media strategist Adam Goodman, who isn’t connected to any campaign in the district right now, thought little of the marketing decision.

“It cheapens the product and does little to engender an emotional connection,” Goodman said. “It’s literally pissing money away.”

Consultants tied to competing campaigns scoff at letting a candidate’s name be literally defiled. But they also assert failing to target advertisement to likely primary voters foolishly wastes precious resources.

Osborne notes the urinal screens were part of a larger ad buy with the arena, which will also show Figlesthaler ads with more traditional placement during sporting events and shows.

But Osborne also said in the hyper-engaged political environment of 2020, the crazy decision will be to ignore nontraditional voters.

“Unlike the other candidates, he (Figlesthlaler) understands the world has changed and the way we reach voters has changed,” Osborne said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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