Smell is a direct route to people’s emotions and, by extension, probably a smart way to sell product. For decades, perfumes have beckoned readers with scented magazine strips and commercials for various cleaning products feature women breathing in that classic lemon-fresh/spring rain/lavender flower scent. Recently, Johnson & Johnson India aimed to spur nostalgia for the mother-baby bond by infusing their ads with the odor of baby powder. To attract attention to their “Power of Gentle” campaign, the company ran scented ads in The Times of India, The Hindu, and Malayala Manorama.
The ads used no fancy technology or specialty ink. After the papers were printed, “the fragrance of Johnson’s Baby Powder was sprayed on each and every copy on pages 1 and 2, to ensure that there was a long-lasting effect,” said Ameya Dangi, J&J’s General Marketing Manager for Baby Care. “Readers immediately smell baby powder wafting up from the page.”
In other words, no instructions to scratch and sniff. “We chose to opt for an unaided approach to evoke a pure sense of nostalgia and bring back those subtle, delicate, and joyful memories each mother experiences,” said Dangi.
Johnson & Johnson currently has no plans to try the scented newspaper approach outside of Asia. After all, can you really imagine New York Times staff spraying baby powder smell across breaking news?