Now for the dirty little secret about new ideas: The good ones last. The bad ones - most of them - die a-bornin' and you never hear about them.
While the technique has already been tried in London, U.K., it hasn't happened in the U.S. of A., and won't until this coming Monday.
What I'm referring to is an on-the-nose innovation from the California Milk Processor Board, building on the campaign originally developed by San Fran agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and aromatized by New York's Arcade Marketing. While you might think the Milk Board folks have too much time and money on their hands, some decision-maker somewhere approved a new twist to the "Got Milk?" campaign:
Five San Francisco bus shelters, as an initial test, will be inobtrusively plastered with scent-emitting strips that give off the aroma of fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. Starting Monday.
The Chronicle's Rachel Gordon explains the thinking:
It's the brainchild of marketers for the California Milk Processor Board, who are hoping the captive crowds waiting for a bus will be enticed to go home and grab a glass of milk after they take a whiff of the artificial scent and are cued visually with "Got Milk?'' advertisements to be posted in the shelters.
How you want to look at this depends on where you're coming from.
From a classic direct-response point of view, this is ridiculous. What action are you asking for here from your prospect? If anything, it's to buy cookies. But people at bus stops are on their way to work, or on their way home. After a long day's work. They don't want to fight the crowds at the store. Etc., etc. Besides: how will buying cookies increase sales of milk?
From a traditonal non-integrated branding perspective, this campaign is typical... brilliant... and pointless. What is being branded here? Does this mean now that people will always want cookies when they want milk? Suppose cookies aren't available? Suppose a rabid milk fan doesn't like chocolate chip cookies? Will this reduce the market by one formerly loyal consumer?
You can see by the questions I ask why I don't have much of a fan-base in traditional ad agencies.
However, here's an idea, just to make the world a safer place for cookies. And milk.
If there were a coordinated campaign in San Francisco grocery stores with little stands of free cookie samples, or for-sale whole cookies, near the area where milk is sold... and the strips were stuck under the stand for added aroma-power... that might make this worth doing.
If the idea even works in the first place.
Publisher, World Copywriting Newsletter