Kraft Runs Osmic Ads

14 November 2006

NORTHFIELD, Illinois: Cheesy is not usually a complimentary term when referring to ads. Kraft Foods and Time Warner's People magazine, however, think otherwise.

Anxious to grab that extra few seconds of consumer attention any which way they can, a trickle of advertisers are turning to a sensory mix of vision and odor in print ads.

Setting what could become a national trend of funky ads, Kraft has sponsored a special holiday issue of People magazine in which it will run thirty-one ads - five of which will feature rub-and-snort smells appropriate to the advertised products.

A full page color ad for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, for example, depicts a strawberry cheesecake which when rubbed emits the aroma of the product. Other Kraft ads for cinnamon coffee, cherry Jell-O and white chocolate will also exude appropriate olfactory allure.

In addition, a number of editorial articles will be accompanied by pictures of food, such as hot chocolate and sugar cookies, that emit an aroma when rubbed.

Although there's nothing new in scented print ads (or editorial), advertisers and publishers are cautious about using the technique as it can sometimes contaminate adjoining pages and offend readers - likewise other advertisers.

However, recent developments in printing technology have largely resolved the problem. But the new processes involve sizeable production oncosts - about which neither Kraft nor Time Warner will elaborate.

Kraft's director of media buying Gary Gruneberg will say only that the company is "challenging ourselves, our brands, our agencies to come up with creative ways to interact with consumers." As to cost, the lips of all concerned are zipped.

The odorized issue has been mailed to only one million of People's 2.3 million subscribers, a specially selected target audience of women in the 25-54 age group with children and other households with multiple family members.

According to Georgia State University associate professor of marketing Pam Scholder Ellen, who has studied advertisers' use of scents, these can be a powerful advertising tool that can "transport people out of their current state into a more desirable state."

Whether or not these altered states make them more likely to buy is unknown, although Kraft will likely be researching that question in some depth.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff