Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Bus Bench Never Smelled So Sweet

According to Reuters, the smell of San Francisco’s bus benches just improved dramatically. The California Milk Processor Board started placing cookie-scented ads in area bus stops. The ad campaign hopes the smell of cookies increases the craving for milk in anyone waiting at the bus stop. I don’t know about you, but when I smell cookies, it makes me crave more cookies, not milk. Also, where do you buy milk when you are waiting at a bus stop? I wonder if cookie makers everywhere are busy making milk scented ads to drive up cookie sales. Would the milk scent get ripe on a hot day though? Why not place a milk ad bus stop next to the cookie-scented bus stop so everyone wins? At least waiting for a bus in San Francisco will be more pleasant now with the sweet scent of fresh baked cookies wafting through the air. Although to be fair, I can’t remember the last time I waited for a bus in San Francisco or any city for that matter, so I probably should not speak about the pleasantries of bus stop waiting.

I don’t think using scents to improve sales is anything new. They’ve been spraying unsuspecting people near the cosmetic and fragrance counters at malls everywhere for years. Disneyland has long been suspected of releasing sweet and sugary scents from its candy shops onto Main Street for as long as I can remember. In fact, my office just inserted pine smell into the restroom’s automatic air freshener machines like they do every holiday season. It’s a lot better than the ‘old man who ate too much cabbage’ scent that permeates our restroom the remainder of the year. The power of smell is very strong and can make quite an impression. Why just yesterday I smelled this guy in line next to me that, well, smelled rather garlicky. Only I don’t think it was garlic.

Now that the advertising industry has expanded to the wide world of smell, I can think of so many exciting pairings. Imagine being able to boost sales because someone can smell your product or smell something that makes them crave your product. The possibilities are endless. How great would it be driving by coffee scented billboards on the freeway while driving into work each morning? Maybe we’d all be a little peppier when we get into the office each day.

Restaurants like Red Lobster could start placing ads that smelled like wharves or piers that would hopefully make people crave seafood. The liver and onions industry (there is one, right?) could create ads scented like, well, I guess anything other than liver and onions to help drive up their sales. Obviously any ad scented like chocolate would be wildly successful, as would any ad that smelled like good BBQ. The Duraflame company could begin placing billboards in the fall that smelled like burning wood to help remind everyone of how much they need to light a fake wax and saw dust molded log in their fireplace when they get home. If the California Milk Processor Board’s new ad campaign is successful, the world around us could become not only one big billboard, but also a cornucopia of nasal delights.

How fun it would be to stand on one corner and smell an ad for one food type and then stand on another corner and smell something entirely different but equally tasty. Actually, I take that back. Sea World likes to smoke meat in big fire pits outside of two of their restaurants, which smells great, but when the wind shifts and the smoked meat smell mixes with the smell of the aquatic mammals or their raw fish, it tends to be a little nauseating. The same goes for those days at the shopping center near work when the smell of the Mexican food restaurant mixes with the scents from the Chinese buffet next door. Those are usually the days when we all end up turning around and walking back to work with a sudden loss of appetite.

Hopefully the advertising council or whoever regulates outside advertising will set some boundaries and scent guidelines. I think we all can agree that no matter how much we like to eat it; none of us wants to smell an advertisement for cheese. Some things are better left to the imagination, but I definitely smell a winner with this new type of advertising.


Le Nightowl said...

I smell something fishy going on here :)
Don't you think French fries smell wonderful?
I'm a very olfactive person (among many other qualities), smells can trigger lots of memories.
Great post, sprinkled with humour nuggets :)

Lizza said...

I'd actually be reluctant to get on the bus and leave the yummy-smelling bus stop.

So if scent takes center stage in marketing, what scent would they use to advertise underwear?

ShadowFalcon said...

I read about that, the last think I'd want it to hungry when I get one a bus.

Empress Bee said...

i remember the disgusting "scratch and sniff" stuff they used to have. it started in magazines with perfume and soon ran amok like wildfire with tee shirts and all sorts of stuff to scratch and sniff. i hope that never happens again.....sigh

Odat said...

I can picture it now....cookie and urine smells at bus stops....nice combo!

nouchema said...

Hey hey hey,

come to FRANCE to see what we do with our bus shelters
and if you speak french you can understand that smell doesn't do anything to change our comportement !



Michael C said...

Le Nightowl: I'm an olfactionist too. French fries do smell great and should be used to scent the world ;-)

Lizza: Hopefully it's not chocolate, if you get my drift ;-)

Shadow: That would upset me too. Imagine smelling something great and then having to board the city bus.

Empress Bee: Scratch and sniff t-shirts? Wouldn't that be sexual harassment these days? ;-)

Odat: I read your comment and just had to put my bowl of rice krispies down. If I read about cookies and urine during every meal, I'd lose 60 pounds ;-)
I think you just started a new diet revolution ;-)

Nouchema: Unfortunately I can't speak French. Heck, I have enough trouble with proper English. I did check out your blog though and recognized the bus stop. I hope that counts ;-)

S. A. F. said...

I think the busses whould have milk bars on them. It's a win-win.

I like your blog!

Michael C said...

S.A.F.: Milk bars on the bus would be a great idea and make travel a little nicer. Add a cookie tray and it's perfect. Thanks for stopping by!!!!

Shionge said...

Now even without smelling anything I'm craving for some cookies now yayayay...

thepinkangel said...

so I wonder if they should sell milk at a lemonade stand...or milk stand I suppose...next to the bus stop? personally I would be a little angry that they weren't selling cookies...who cares about the milk !!

mist1 said...

I prefer the good old days when bus stops smelled like urine. Call me old fashioned.

Josie said...

When I get off the bus near where I live, I have to walk past a KFC and they have a big fan on the roof so the smell of the fried chicken will waft everywhere. I have to resist going in there every night. Now, if the smell was cookies, I'd be toast.


Meloncutter said...

One has to wonder what smell they would use to lure us poor unsuspecting souls into the strip club.

that could really suck on payday.

Later Y'all

Michael C said...

Shionge: I'm craving cookies too and have been since posting this yesterday ;-)

pinkangel: who cares about the milk indeed. It looks to me like the cookie folks are getting free advertising.

Mist1: I'd be more apt to call you a realist...urine it is!

Josie: i drive by a KFC everynight and start to shake and drool. Unfortunately, a stop light is right next to it which makes it worse when I have to sit there for 5 minutes smelling it during a red light!

Melon: Cotton candy? I really have no idea. Does flesh have an all inclusive scent?

Jessie said...

Nice blog you have here!

Michael C said...

Jessie: Thanks. I visited your blog and I thought yours was great. Please feel free to stop by again!

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