If you’re as old as me you may remember scratch and sniff ads. You’d just scratch the ad and be immersed in the aroma of freshly baked tollhouse cookies or an alluring perfume… stimulating your appetite or nausea depending on the potency.


scent marketing

This sensory tactic never really went beyond food and fragrance advertising or direct-mail. That is, until now. Today’s technology is allowing us to integrate smells into brand communications in more creative ways than ever before. And it’s hooking audiences by the nose.

In Heathrow Airport, a “scent globe” emits scents of places like Thailand, Japan, Brazil and South Africa when you push on the country. Brazil has notes of coffee, rainforests and jasmine, while Thailand treats us with lemongrass, ginger and coconut. The hope is that people will follow their noses to these destinations on British Airways or other airlines that serve this hub.

Dunkin’ Donuts is taking their smells on the road by installing coffee aroma atomizers on Dunkin’ branded buses in South Korea. Imagine you’re on your way to work, you hear a Dunkin’s radio commercial and catch a whiff of coffee, you see the Dunkin’ Donuts out the window…boom, impulse purchase. In fact, Dunkin’ saw a 16% spike in visitors at shops on the bus routes where vehicles were equipped with the atomizers.

Some companies enhance their scent experiences with technologies or ideas that connect with other senses. McCain foods created a poster that smells like a baked potato and is warm to the touch. Unilever placed clear hydro-chronic ink stickers in spa showers that turned into vibrant purple orchids when the water was turned on and their orchid shower gel was used.

Of course, the most common use of scent marketing is at the point-of-purchase. Retail stores, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, senior living communities, car dealerships and offices of every kind are emitting aromas into the air to create a more positive brand experience and stimulate purchases. Even medical and dental offices are using olfactory branding to create feelings of relaxation and confidence.

But what about mobile marketing? Surely, our phones are smell-free zones. Well, not so fast. Scientists at Harvard University have successfully created an app called ‘oSnap’ to carry out the first ever transmission of smell. The scientists transferred a champagne and passion fruit macaroon scent from Paris to New York using an ingenious new communication platform called the oPhone.

Part of the reason scent branding is so successful is that our sense of smell is so wired into our memory and emotions. Smells can remind us of a positive experience or arouse a good feeling that can trigger a purchase or at least brand affinity.

There’s no question scent marketing is an impactful way to engage your audience and build your brand. The only question is: what does your brand smell like and how can you bring it to life in exciting ways? If you want some help, just let us know. We have a nose for these things.

But, if you don’t think scent marketing is quite the right move for your brand, don’t worry-we still got you covered. Check out our full list of capabilities here!