Friday, December 08, 2006

Cookie Campaign

Earlier this week in San Francisco, the "Got Milk?" people launched a new campaign. The idea was to stick cookie-scented strips at bus stops that would get people thinking of cookies, and then, of course, of milk! The campaign was over in 36 hours. Some people complained about allergies. Some people said that homeless people would be sad because they would smell the cookies but couldn't eat them. Some said that this is all we need when we are fighting a losing (well we wish) battle against obesity. Some teenager said that the bus stops would smell like "cookies and bums." (Disclaimer: these are all rumors and I haven't verified any of them! But the campaign was real and I heard these rumors from other, mostly reliable news sources.)

My initial reaction was that it's just not fair to try and manipulate us with our sense of smell! But then, how is marketing using scent any different than imagery or sound? It's just another sense. But somehow it seems even more powerful. I vaguely remember from grad school learning how our sense of smell might be more closely linked to our memories by its the proximity of the olfactory bulb and cortex to the hippocampus. But I'm spreading rumors again. Anyway, here's a paper that might be a good starting point: "Odor Memory Induces Brain Activation as Measured by Functional MRI" (Levy, Lucien M.; Henkin, Robert I.; Lin, Chin S.; Hutter, Alf; Schellinger, Dieter).

I guess the more important question is this: would people really make the connection between cookies and milk, or would they just eat more cookies? When I see those huge chocolate chip cookies in the cafeteria at lunch, I don't think about milk. If they were Oreos, maybe I would. I guess at some point that one was drilled into me.


MileMasterSarah said...

When I smell cookies, I think of eating cookies. Adding milk to the mix is just too many extra carbs!
Btw, how is the symlin coming along?

WillF said...

Maybe they should try breakfast cereal scents. Like the smell of cheerios or grape nuts. fruit loops. or all of the cereals combined.

Anne said...

Hey Sarah,
Thanks for stopping by. The symlin is going okay. I should do a new post on it. I don't take it all of the time, because I am leery of taking it for lunch when I am exercising after work. But I guess its effect should be worn off by then. I do try to take it after breakfast. But sometimes I wonder if I really want to slow down my absorption of food after an early morning exercise bout. Honestly, so far, it doesn't seem to have a big effect on me. I'll keep trying it, though.

Anne said...

not cheerios. It would make me think of soggy cheerios in a dish with milk, on their way to becoming shrivley cheerios when the milk evaporates. Maybe fruit loops, though.

In Search Of Balance said...

Wow, that's not a good campaign. Although, bizarrely, I've never liked cookies. Any kind. Before or after D. But if they had had a cake campaign.... well... that would have been another story.

Anne said...

I wish I didn't like cookies. Especially those big huge chocolate chip cookies...mmmm