October 3, 2010
A group of teenagers from an activist group called Teens Turning Green recently stormed a San Francisco Abercrombie & Fitch in protest of the store’s policy of scenting their outlets with their signature scent, “Fierce.” A former Aberbrombie employee identified only as “Lemondrop” claimed that the scent was overpowering to the point that employees would “…start to get dizzy.”
June 8, 2008
Martin Howard, author of We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind, rates “In-Store Sensory Manipulation” at #3 on his list of “10 Disturbing Trends in Subliminal Advertising.” Many corporations are resorting to “underhanded methods” to persuade consumers, warns Howard. “One study into use of airborne aromas, pumped into a Canadian mall, resulted in an increase of over $50 per customer that week.”
May 29, 2008
On January 8 of 2007, a powerful smell of gas created brief chaos in Manhattan, forcing building evacuations and commuter train suspension, before dissipating just hours later. Speculation on the source of the stench has been all over the board, including a perfect-storm-like environmental scenario of low tides and atmospheric pressures which triggered the release of natural gasses from saltwater marshes in the metropolitan area. The most likely culprit, however, is thought to have been a leak of the substance ethyl mercaptan. This manufactured sulfur compound is deliberately added to odorless-but-dangerous natural gas and specifically designed to trigger, well…precisely the reaction exhibited that morning in New York. The unfortunate incident was nonetheless an amazing testament to the additive’s effectiveness; an entire city reacted to smoke where there was no fire.
The choice of sulfur-scent to warn us of danger was a fairly simple one as, to our early ancestors, for whom all smells were organic, sulfur meant decay and decay meant death. Many olfactory clues in the contemporary world, which contains literally millions of synthetic compounds undreamed of by ancient man, are far more complicated. Things which smell good to us are not necessarily things which are good for us. Highly-lethal cyanide smells like tasty almonds. Deadly chemical warfare agents phosgene, lewisite, and dichlorodiethyl sulfide smell–respectively–like sweet hay, geraniums, and mustard.