I’m So Wired In, It’s Scary

In case anyone still doubts just how wired I am into the culture… consider this:

While writing my Rant newsletter last month, I went off about the wonders of “smell-o-vision”… an absurd gimmick used a few times back in the fifties, in a few theaters: While you watched the movie, a little box under your seat would shoot puffs of scents onto your pant leg.

You see a rose on the screen… you smell a rose wafting up from below your seat… and (be still, my heart) you were supposed to just go crazy or something.

The idea was to make the movie-viewing experience a “total sensory extravaganza”.

Didn’t catch on. Too messy, unpredictable… and I hear that people didn’t appreciate smelling like a mulch pile on leaving the theater. (I think John “Pink Flamingos” Waters toyed with smell technology in the 80s, and no, I don’t really want to think about how he may have used it in a theater.)

Nevertheless, I predicted it was time to bring smell-o-vision back… especially since cuttng-edge Web marketers are so hot on making your online experience “multi-sensual”.

I joked, mostly. But not entirely — after all, the fastest way to ignite a memory really is through odors. The right scent can send you off to Reminisce Land faster than any other sense. Specific memories, too. (A whiff of Herbal Essence shampoo, for example, can zoom me right back to a certain damp Tuesday afternoon in my old college co-op hoouse… the one dubbed Ghetto Manor, for reasons I may or may not explain in another post.)

And people have mocked me, a bit, for making such a nutty observation.

Well, looky here: USA Today reports last week that, indeed, a Japanese theater is going to use smell-o-vision for the latest Colin Ferrell movie, “The New World”.

I’m sure it will be a spectacular failure, but give ’em kudos for trying.

And don’t turn your nose up at the possibilities, either — there have been some very successful direct mail campaigns based on smell. It’s tricky, but if you can pull it off, you can put the amazing power of triggering pleasant memories to work for you.

Something to consider, as apparently technology has been aimed at your nose once again.

Stay frosty.

John Carlton

P.S. I’m out of the office now until next Tuesday. Going to a marketing summit in Washington DC. Smell the cherry blossoms, be a museum whore for a few off days, get out of Dodge.

My trusty assistant Diane has gone off on vacation, too, so the office is essentially closed until the 24th. Don’t panic, and remember to let the cat in at night.

P.P.S. Plus, don’t forget to sign up for automatic notification of future Big Damn Blog posts. The little sign-in box is up on the top right here — just leave your email.

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