HIGHTOWER: Scent Ads Go Too Far

Time for another voyage to: "The Far, Far FAR-OUT Frontiers of Free Enterprise."Spaceship Hightower takes you today deep inside the mysterious world of magazine advertising, where you can open up a perfectly innocent-looking copy of say Time or Esquire or Sports Illustrated and... phew! P-uuuuu! You get hit right in the nostrils with a big stinky whiff from those perfume and cologne ads they tuck in there.OK, admittedly I'm not a very perfumy kind of guy, but do these ads really smell good to anyone? To me, the aroma coming off the page is more like Houston Ship Channel Number 5 than Chanel Number 5 -- I wouldn't wear the stuff to a tractor pull.Well, like it or not, get ready for more "scented advertising" in magazines. The industry is abuzz with news that there's been a technological breakthrough allowing more product-makers to include smells with their print ads -- everything from the minty-bouquet of toothpaste to the new-leather fragrance of cars.Already, mag marketers are experimenting with such pungent odors as beer, cigarettes and pizza. Won't that be nice? A magazine that reeks with smoke, stale beer and leftover pizza. I've been in some pretty odoriferous honky-tonks that smell like that by closing time, but I don't think you're going to want it wafting out of a magazine on your coffee table.What do I know, though? for sure, the smell-makers are ga-ga over the possibilities: "We're on the verge of a marketing revolution," gushed one executive, adding that "we can copy any smell. There is NO LIMIT."That's exactly my fear. If they can give us the yucky smell of cigarettes, what's to stop them from running stinky ads of politicians? Bad enough that we have to see and hear Phil Gramm -- must we smell him too? Now that's going waaay too far.

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