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Smellvertising comes to SF - chocolate chip cookie scented bus stops

Starting Monday, five bus stops will have chocolate chip cookie scent strips as part of an ad campaign for milk.

The milk company is hoping that a picture of milk & cookies along with a fresh-from the oven cookie smell will make people go home and have some cookies and milk.

It makes me wonder if food magazines will follow the lead of perfume advertisers and start putting food scents in the ads.

I'm thinking the ad is going to sell more cookies than milk. It might work if the smellvertising was right outside a market.

Supposedly this was tried in London by a soft drink company that had citrus-scent to entice people to buy the product.

As they say in the infomercials ... but wait, there's more ...

This site says ...

"some television manufacturers are working on technology where digital signals are emitted causing our brains to activate the sense of smell to coincide with the theme of a television show or commercial."

I guess that means some day air will no longer be free.

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  1. Hm, not to be gross, but bus stops tend to be plenty "fragrant" enough on their own. I'm not sure I want chocolate chip cookies associated with them in my brain. The first quote in the article pretty much sums it up for me.

    1. Some food places in the mall fan their smell out into the shopping area to entice people--cinnabon, cookies, etc. I've never found any "fake" smells to be as good as the real thing, like candles. I'd prefer food scents to perfume in my magazines, though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        I think KFC does this too. It drove crazy when I'd drive by commute time in the evenings.

      2. So glad you guys picked up this story! The shelters actually DON'T have a picture of milk and cookies. It's just the Got Milk? logo and the smell. Fun, huh? And it's a really good smell because we went through tons of rounds with the scent company so we wouldn't be pissing people off with a gross scent. Hope everyone likes it. :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: tomtom

          So ... did all those rounds with the scent company make you go home and drink lots of milk?

        2. Haha, given it's the city, how is anyone suppose to know it's chocolate chip cookies and not old fashion urban funk? Pick the wrong shelter and you could easily get the scent of pee...if not worse.

          1. it's like putting deodorant on a dirty toilet. you can still smell the urine.

            1. It's mean to the poor homeless person trying to sleep in the shelter. Plus, does milk really need to be advertised? Don't most people buy it anyhow? And if they don't, why would they start? I actually wonder if ads work at all. I love the "Real Men of Genius" radio ads but I would NEVER buy Bud Lite.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Glencora

                I think they advertise milk because they can, not because they need to (same as Coca Cola). Besides, I think if the campaign works, it would make me want to buy cookies, not milk. If it doesn't work, it would just make me think of stinky bus stops whenever I eat cookies. Ugh. No thanks.

                Not too many homeless people trying to sleep in bus shelters in SF, though that's besides the point. Too cold and open to the air, and you can't lie on the spinning seats.

                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                  from the article on why the ads were removed:

                  "Others complained the ads could be offensive to the poor and homeless who can't afford to buy sweet treats."

                  LOLS!!!! Thats soooooo san franciscan! Of course, it also assumes that they are not put off by the visual displays of opulence which predominate in parts of SF. Too rich!

                  1. re: krushdnasty

                    Nothing the SF Board of Stupidvisors does should surprise anyone! God, when will they do away with district elections? Sorry, back to your regular programing.

                    1. re: chipman

                      Yeah the reasons were dopey and it sure makes them look silly. That said, frankly I'm glad it was shut down. Not because I don't like the smell of cookies but because if it went through it would only be the first of MANY smellovision ads. Next up: Rightguard before and after...is that you or the bum? You get the wiff.

                    2. re: krushdnasty

                      That wasn't the only complaint. People who were senstive to chemical scents complained.

                      In SF the bakeries can be cited for air polution for letting the smell of REAL baked bread invade airspace. So I'm not sure how this got as far as it did.

                      As to the milk ad, eventually someone probably would have complained, so to speak, that the cookie smell was making them fall off their diet and jeopardizing their health.