posted by Christopher Swope
I'm pretty keen on the marketing power of public transportation. Here in D.C. lately, brown-wrapped city buses have been turned into massive candy bars, thanks to an ad campaign by Snickers. I love it. I'm also a fan of Target's backlit animations in our subway tunnels. (Here's a video of how something similar works in Japan).
Still, I'm not quite sure what to make of this advertising news from San Francisco. Apparently, the people who brought us the Got Milk? ads are adding the artificial smell of just-baked chocolate chip cookies to their poster ads on the sides of bus shelters.
Yes, transit advertising is going olfactory on us.
I know how I'm supposed to feel about this. I'm supposed to mourn the passing of yet another of our five human senses into the advertising kingdom. Madison Avenue took sight (TV) and sound (radio) from us long ago. Taste as advertising is give and take -- I'm thinking free samples here. Now they're snatching smell from us, too. Only touch remains an ad-free zone, barring changes in law or social behavior.
But let's be honest: Bus shelters could do worse than smell like chocolate chip cookies. Much worse. As a teenager quoted in the Chronicle points out, "It's going to smell like cookies and bums."
Put that way, aroma ads sound like an improvement.