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Dunkin' Donuts fills buses with coffee smell to boost sales

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 The award-winning "Flavor Radio" campaign for Dunkin' Donuts takes ambient advertising to the next level. (Cheill Worldwide / In today's hyper-competitive marketplace, ads can be found just about anywhere; from billboards and magazines to telephone poles, drinking straws, human foreheads and beyond.

If you think no surface has been left untouched, you may be right - which is why one South Korean business has moved their commercials into the very air their potential customers breathe.

Dunkin' Donuts is making use of a new technology that releases the scent of fresh coffee into the atmosphere for riders to inhale while they're commuting.

Public transit vehicles in Seoul have been outfitted with dispensers that resemble the electronic air fresheners found in many homes. But instead of putting out a puff lavender fields, they fill an entire bus with the aroma of Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

The spray, known as "Flavor Radio" is set off every time the franchise's radio jingle plays over the bus's speakers.

As their campaign video explains, Dunkin' Donuts wanted potential customers in "the city of coffee" to think of their store when they think of their morning brew.

"It is necessary to establish the thinking that 'Dunkin = coffee' to convince people to select Dunkin for their coffee fix," reads the copy under Flavor Radio's submission for the Cannes International Festival of Creativity this year.

A pushy tactic, maybe - but a highly effective one, as results show.

According to Cheil Worldwide, the advertising agency responsible for the campaign, visitors to Dunkin' Donuts stores near bus stops rose 16% during the initial run of the program, and overall coffee sales jumped by 29%.

Flavor Radio was so successful, in fact, that it won Cheil Worldwide Seoul a Bronze Lion for Best Use of Ambient Media at Cannes.

What do you think of "Olfactory advertising" - is this taking the commercialization of space too far, or is it simply a neat way to advertise? If you have no problem with this sort of pitch, which products would you want to smell?

POLL: The Dunkin' Donuts Flavor Radio Campaign is...

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