A few years ago, a South Korean company predicted that the Internet would be able to deliver smells to users by the year 2015. It, however, overlooked the far more obvious site of odors and smells: your local Metro stop. To promote its line of microwavable baked potatoes that are ready in just five minutes, U.K.-based food manufacturer McCain Foods outfitted 10 bus stops in London, Glasgow and other major U.K. cities with a “unique marketing technology” that permeates the air with the “mouthwatering” aroma of oven-baked potatoes. Not unlike pushing a button on a microwave, you just have to push a button on the ad, and the bus stop will smell of spud.
McCain has pulled out all the stops to make its potatoes as appealing as possible: The ads feature a three-dimensional fiberglass tuber that not only releases the aroma but also heats up when the button is pushed. Based on the advertising agency's video below, the hot potatoes apparently encourage would-be bus riders to lay their hands on the bulging tater as if they were palming a very pregnant woman's belly, waiting for a kick.
The kicker in McCain's campaign is the technology behind it all. A “hidden heating element” warms the faux potato, and the company worked with a “specialist scent lab” for three months to create the distinctive sell.
And as if these tactile and olfactory experiences weren't enough, the ad also dispenses coupons.
In total, McCain is spending an estimated £1.4 million, or approximately $2.2 million, in hopes of striking Yukon Gold with its campaign. If the campaign is indeed successful, that $2.2 million will be, well, small potatoes.