Marketers need to flood the senses

Earlier this week I went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes film in 3D. Although it was quite a good film, the 3D effects were formulaic – either that, or I have become much more demanding – expecting my senses to be wowed each time I go to the cinema.

Then today I went to a local store and was struck by a smell that evoked memories of being a child and visiting a local toy shop over 40 years ago. It was a smell that to my mind I had not experienced since I was about six years old but it still provoked feelings of excitement and pleasure somewhere in my brain.

These two events hit me at how we as marketers have not really reaped the opportunities of modern technology to tease people’s senses – at least not in the way we might have expected it being done 20 years ago. Whatever happened to ‘scratch and sniff’ cards? For that matter, what happened to the idea of                                  hologram-type TVs?

I can remember working in retail marketing a few years ago and playing with pushing the smell of fresh coffee to potential customers walking past our store (not that we sold coffee). I can also remember my mother baking bread before prospective purchasers visited our family home that was up for sale. I even remember girlfriends from school soaking love letters in perfume.

In each case, the ‘seller’ was seeking to appeal to the nose to help achieve a positive outcome. But I am not seeing much of that today and certainly not in the online ecommerce world. Why is that? I cannot believe that technology is the sole reason. Is it that we as marketers have just got carried away with doing the ‘same old same old’ better rather than trying to push boundaries?

Is 3D as far as our imagination can go? How are digital marketers exploiting our taste buds? Why are we not prompting those nasal hairs to twitch in line with our latest product development?

The future’s bright… the future smells of oranges (and lemons).

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here