direct mail marketing kitteh

Best direct mail campaign in history: yes, cats are involved

February 21, 2014
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kitteh Best direct mail campaign in history: yes, cats are involved

Using sense of smell to enhance your branding power

Giving your brand an edge is more important than ever before. From scents to interactive ads, marketers are trying harder than ever to grab your attention. Motorola created an ad that lets you change the color of a printed page before your eyes; billboards ad have been lit aflame, and now brands are appealing to your sense of smell. You may not realize it, but you have probably already been exposed to scent technologies. Scent branding is being used by boutiques, museums, and everything in between.

bar Best direct mail campaign in history: yes, cats are involved
Why use scent? The sense of smell is one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. And, if used in the right way, scent branding can enhance customer experience in a pleasing manner. It can also drive purchases as well. If your scent evokes a happy memory, people are more likely to buy it again and again.



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Recently, India published its first scented newspaper ad. Johnson and Johnson placed a full-page advertisement in “The Times of India,” “The Hindu,” and “Malayala Manorama,” all of which were infused with the smell of J&J’s baby powder. As more and more publications are losing out in the digital age, making print advertising exciting, innovative, and fun, is paramount. And let’s face it, everyone loves that “baby smell,” so not only did people enjoy the ad, it encouraged people to pass it around and talk about it; which is exactly what you hope for in any marketing campaign.

The best direct mail campaign ever in history


Scent targeted marketing has even expanded to the pet market. A cat litter warehouse, looking to draw attention as they launch, chose a direct mail campaign. But they needed a way to insure their advertising did not wind up in the trash, so they decided to use scent. They infused their postcards with catnip and kitties went crazy for it; see their reactions here. As soon as the mail arrived in their human’s mailboxes, the cats were pounced, immediately drawn to the scent. And when the cats like something, the owners take notice, which insured the ad, for the most part, was noticed and not discarded.

The same is true for print advertising. Creating an ad that makes your readers stand up and take notice is what the difference between and effective campaign and one that flops. So why not engage the customer’s senses and draw them in to your product? At the very least they will be likely to talk about the novelty of scented ads, something you just cannot get through digital advertising.

Jennifer Walpole is a staff writer for AGBeat and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.


8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Advertising | Advertisingworld.co

  2. Uhhh, you know this wasn’t a real campaign, don’t you? That piece couldn’t be delivered (no postal insignia, etc). And sending a square piece – yikes. USPS must hand-sort Irregular shapes like this, so they are prohibitively expensive for a direct-mail campaign. And this “cat litter warehouse” is using direct mail to sell cat litter?? Probably the least cost-effective example of using direct mail. Ever.

    What *was* real about this video — it’s catnip to social media and marketing gurus who can’t resist telling us about new, creative and exciting ways to do something that doesn’t need to be new, creative or exciting. Up Next: scented postcards with QR codes delivered by drones (cut to scene where a millennial is struggling to scan the QR code on a postcard with her smartphone while the wind whips around a drone hovering overhead).

  3. Bruce, it is a Canadian company, but you could be right since their website is pretty defunct, the property they say their address is located shows up as “For Lease” on Google Maps, but I won’t let you crush my dreams – I think it could be a pricey marketing stunt!

    We spoke with an Austin printer who noted they’ve used buttered popcorn smell for direct mailers, and that scent is being used in marketing (and not just that horrible Abercrombie cologne sprayed every 10 minutes through the air vents in their store). Laugh all you want, but I think it’s pretty cool, curmudgeon! ;)

    • “Curmudgeon”? Really??

      ok, I admit, that’s about right.

  4. First of all, this video is adorable. Second of all, this direct mail campaign is a great example of where the print marketing industry is headed. Getting your message noticed in today’s oversaturated media world is an ongoing challenge, but when you have the help of a furry friend and a little creativity, a direct marketing piece like this is bound for success. Sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell – experiential marketing campaigns are utilizing a range of senses these days to capture the attention of consumers. Increasingly, we’ve seen that it’s imperative for printed pieces to be interactive, cutting-edge and personalized, in order to increase the connection between the brand and the consumer. Print makes emotional connections and memorable impressions in this fast-paced, always-on world. Partner print with the sense of smell and you’ve created one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. In fact, a
    well-designed, creative, innovative piece can drive a connection between a brand and a consumer, sparking their interest, increasing their loyalty and possibly gaining new ambassadors. So, I highly recommend – take advantage of the power of print and have a little fun with it, too! – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

    • Totally agree with the comments of Shelley. For the best effect it is important to use scent as an active coating in order to get the fragrance released by local air flow instead of a (passive) cratch and sniff technology..

    • I’m a huge fan of direct mail and agree it can be a very effective way to cut through “today’s oversaturated media world”. But scented mail absolutely isn’t the future of print marketing. “Have a little fun with it”? Maybe one can have some fun with direct mail on Planet Fantasy where printing and postage costs are negligible. But on Planet Earth where I live, direct mail is way too expensive for that (harsh, I know, but I feel it’s my duty since someone here labeled me as a “curmudgeon”)

      The real opportunity with direct mail — IMO — is cost-effective implementation of targeted, variable print direct mail that leads to personalized web interaction (PURLs). Xerox is a leader in printing solutions for variable print, but that’s just one link in the chain. It can be very expensive and very complicated to implement a program that targets the *right* consumers with the *right* message that also *minimizes* printing and postage costs. “Printers of the future” will master not only the technology of digital variable printing, but the data & tools needed to help facilitate targeted messages that are easy and cost-effective to implement. As a consumer of this product, I can tell you it’s getting better, but solutions are still evolving at a glacier pace.

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