Korean Dunkin Donuts coffee scent in buses idea prompts outburst for ‘invasiveness’


An invasive smell on the bus?

An award-winning idea to lure Koreans to Dunkin Donuts outlets by releasing a coffee smell in public places has drawn criticism at a conference in Australia where some delegates said the stunt was “invasive”.

Peter Wilson, retail planning director at Seoul-based agency network Cheil, was making a presentation at the Mumbrella 360 conference in Sydney on how creativity is influenced by technology in Korea when his talk was interrupted by two delegates who questioned the legality of placing coffee aroma dispensers on buses.

“How is this legal?” one called out after Wilson presented a video case study of the Dunkin Donuts campaign. “It’s an invasion of personal space,” commented another.

When a Dunkin Donuts radio ad was played, a coffee aroma was automatically released. The stunt, which won a media lion at Cannes last year, prompted people to get off the bus and head for the nearest Dunkin Donuts outlets.

Sales at Dunkin Donuts outlets positioned by bus stops increased by 29 per cent during the campaign period, according to Cheil.

The agency told Mumbrella that the account team had encountered “no problems” in getting permission from the local government in Seoul to execute the idea, since fragranced air dispensers already exist on buses in the Korean capital.

A Cheil spokeswoman said: “The coffee aroma was made up of food additives, and the team didn’t experience any complaints from passengers.”

Wilson said that agencies will always “walk the line” when it comes to producing daring campaigns for their clients.


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