There are different ways how to address smell in advertizing. Campaigns in perfumery are an obvious case. Moreover, we recently discussed how even negative feedback on the olfactory quality of a product is used in advertizing. The example of today stands out in a different way.
The Swiss online retailer Galaxus promotes an electric toothbrush. Visually, the advert appears pretty straightforward and reduced. It basically shows the stockphoto of the product – and very little else. However, the headline appeals to the sense of smell and sends a humerous message: “This is the retailer for the oral examen” (Galaxus für die mündliche Prüfung).
Reinventing the classic case of Listerine with a conceptual spin
Contentwise, the campaign reminds us of the early days of western consumer culture and the ways how advertizers convinced Americans and later Europeans they smelled bad. It was for example not before the 1920s that halitosis was marketed as a serious social problem: “Halitosis makes you unpopular“.
Listerine had been around for several decades as an ordinary household disinfectant before someone came up with the bright idea of marketing it as a mouthwash. Yet, instead of visualizing the undesired effects of bad breath in a dramatic way (as they did in the 1920s!) the advert only drops the one keyword: “oral examen”. The underlying irony actively involves and challenges the consumer. At the end of the day it is up to the viewer or consumer to make the connection. In the age of massive open online courses it is an open question how long the institution of the oral examen might survive.
For the time being olfaction is the message!