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Scented Billboards That Smell Like French Fries

A delicious smell can inspire cravings and lure passersby into a restaurant. McDonald’s put that power to the test by deploying a series of billboards diffusing the scent of its bestselling french fries.

Billboard that smells like French fries
No branding - just the scent of French fries | McDonald's/TBWA/Neboko

Amsterdam-based agency TBWA\Neboko collaborated with Raúl&Rigel, a production company specializing in fabricating unusual billboards, to produce a series of unbranded, blank red and yellow billboards with a hidden compartment to store fries. An internal heat and ventilation system intensified the smell of the snack and directed it toward anyone walking within five meters of the display. The unbranded billboards were placed within 200 meters of the nearest McDonald's.

“Smell has been proven to be more effective at sparking clear and emotional memories than images,” McDonald’s Netherlands chief marketing officer Stijn Mentrop-Huliselan said in a statement. “With the inclusion of this next sense in our advertising, we found a new way to remind people of good times at McDonald’s.”

The novel olfactory experiment captured thousands of bystanders walking in front of the billboard and reacting to the smell. As with all billboards, “people could look away, but they couldn’t smell away.”

When interviewed after, most recognized that it was McDonald’s fries. As all of the experimental billboards were placed within easy walking distance of a McDonald’s, any cravings the display inspired could be easily satisfied. Unfortunately, the agency hasn't revealed how many people acted upon their olfactory experience by popping into their nearest McDonald's to satisfy their cravings. But let's hope that florists pick up on the idea.


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