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McDonald's Netherlands and TBWA use aroma to tingle taste buds

By Sakshi Sanghavi - April 10, 2024

Plain red and yellow billboards were installed with smell of fries emitting from them

For decades, McDonald's has seduced taste buds around the globe, making it one of the most beloved and recognisable brands out there. But the brand realised that there's something just as memorable for consumers as their golden arches, products, or jingle: their aroma.

McDonald's Netherlands put this to the test. A series of plain yellow and red billboards were placed in Utrecht and Leiden. The prints appear to be empty at first glance, but as passers-by approach within 5 metres, they are greeted with the distinct aroma of McDonald's French Fries, coming from inside the billboard. This is the first time that a billboard has been used to diffuse the McDonald's scent, making the recognisable aroma its most important brand asset.

This innovative ad campaign was executed by TBWA, a renowned advertising agency owned by Omnicom Group. Through their creative vision and strategic execution, TBWA has helped McDonald's Netherlands redefine the boundaries of outdoor advertising, leveraging aroma to create an immersive brand experience that resonates deeply with consumers.

The billboards were strategically placed within 200 metres of McDonald's restaurants, inviting those with triggered cravings to easily swing by and order their favourite McDonald's products. When every brand is targeting eyeballs, McDonald's targets noses.

Stijn Mentrop-Huliselan, CMO McDonald's Netherlands, states: "McDonald's is all about Good Times. We are well known for our distinctive brand assets that are mostly visual. Smell has been proven to be more effective at sparking clear and emotional memories than images. With the inclusion of this next sense in our advertising, we found a new way to remind people of Good Times at McDonald's."


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