Advertising through the Nose

27 11 2012


Earlier this year, Dunkin’ Donuts took the leap of faith and started a fragrance campaign. Each morning, commuters taking the public transport in Seoul, South Korea are greeted by the aroma of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Through an innovative technology, the aroma known as “Flavored Radio” is sprayed on buses when the company’s radio jingle is played on the speakers. The campaign ended in April and Dunkin’ Donuts reported a 29% increase in sales during the campaign.

dunkin donuts sensorial radio

A thousand miles away, in America, NFL star Terry Crews appeared in an Old Spice campaign dubbed as “Smell is Power” that promotes the company’s new body spray scent called Danger Zone aka “The scent of courage”. The ad showed how the scent can transform a regular smelling man into a man that smells like power.

OldSpice Smell isPower Ad

These two ads only prove that the use of scents in advertising is highly effective. Though often seen as irrelevant, our sense of smell is more influential that we think influencing our minds in more ways than we realize. Marketers who want to improve brand associations are highly encouraged to capitalize on the power of smell.

Of course, olfactory advertising is nothing new. We have seen it on the billboard ads of McCain Ready Baked Jackets in UK bus stops, the gigantic steak-scented billboard of Bloom grocery store chain in North Carolina and even in scented stationery, business cards and brochures from and other leading commercial printers. Done well, smell-vertising (as what marketers fondly call advertising through scent) can improve recall aggressively. We can turn our eyes away from repulsive images or tune out from unpleasant sounds, but it’s much difficult to avert our attention from sweet-smelling or even stinky ads. They fill our lungs and our minds to the brim imprinting the scent in our memories forever.

Dunkin’ Donuts and Old Spice have realized the magical power of smell in advertising early on. Koreans on their way to work will likely have intensified caffeine craving upon sniffing the coffee aroma on the bus and eventually be encouraged to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts on their way. Men who use the “Danger Zone” scent, on the other hand, will feel more confident and powerful just like Terry Crews. Similarly, people who receive scented business cards or stationery will be encouraged to keep or display the material simply because of the inviting smell.

Our sense of smell is the only organ directly wired to our brains. One whiff of a scented billboard or freshly printed stationery and we can already be transported to a whole new different world. No one really knows just how our sense of smell really works, but one thing is certain: it works in advertising.

Image credit: Old Spice Smell is power; Dunkin Donuts



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