New Smell-vertising Technology Will Make Public Spaces Even More Unpleasant

We're all used to smelling those dastardly perfume samples in magazines, but now it looks like advertisers may have found an even more effective way to torment our senses while trying to trick us into buying something. McCain Foods is using a new kind of scent technology to promote a product called Ready Baked Jackets, which are frozen baked potatoes that are supposed to have the same smell and taste of oven-cooked potatoes but only take five minutes to cook. To advertise this revolution in potato-making, they've outfitted several bus shelters in U.K. cities with posters and a 3D fiberglass model of a Ready Baked Jacket potato. There's a button you can press that turns on a heating element which then releases the scent and fills the whole area with warmth and the delicious smell of baked potato. Naturally, the potato ad also dispenses coupons for the product.

It's clever, in theory. But, as a person who has waited in plenty of bus stops in my life, in practice, it seems more like what you'll end up smelling is a baked potato smothered with tasty toppings like dog urine, cigarette ash, and—if it's a really special commute—human feces. That's probably not as appetizing to your average consumer as, say, a steaming hot potato topped with chili and cheese.

Smell-Vertising Hits U.K. With Potato-Scented Bus Shelters [AdAge]