Scent-sational Marketing Pieces: One Whiff and You’ve Got Them

‘Tis the season…pumpkin pie, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, caramel. Ahhh, the aroma! These holiday scents set the tone, get us in the right spirit, are totally calorie free, and are oh-so memorable. And being remembered…isn’t that what a good marketing piece is all about?

Your clients will send a lot of well wishes this season. And you can help them to stand out among the many artistic, classic and interactive varieties soon to be hanging in homes and offices. How? By adding the sense of smell, an option many won’t even be aware is possible.

Add a Dash of Apple Crisp

One way to get scent on paper is to coat the entire sheet. That’s the option that McCormick, the company that makes seasonings and flavorings for food and cooking, has chosen to add some extra “spice” to its annual reports.

Every year the company incorporates a different spice, such as ginger or cinnamon, in the pages of its annual report. The stockholders might not always read the report from cover to cover, but oh they remember it all right.

Adding scent to a sheet of paper is as simple as adding a coat of varnish. In fact, in the process used on the McCormick annual report, the scent is applied to the paper inline in much the same way as a varnish is applied.

Choose a scent from among hundreds of options—Cappuccino or Pina Colada anybody—scented-ink providers like Dodge Marketing and Scentisphere—offer a wide range of stock fragrances and provide the press-ready water-based varnish that delivers your choice of essential oils.

Snap or Scratch for Candied Apples
Not quite as obvious, but providing a certain surprise factor, are options like snap-n-burst (when two layers of paper folded onto itself are pulled-apart releasing the fragrance) or the well-known scratch-and-sniff.

The fragrance oil is stored in tiny capsules made of a strong synthetic polymer material. These capsules are combined with varnish to create a special substance that is loaded into one of the ink fountains on the press.

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

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  • mary Englund

    Last year we produced a Thanksgiving Card with the pumpkin pie scratch n sniff and it was quite a hit. We used microencapsulated slurry applied on press rather than the varnish, because it performs much better and it CAN be activated over and over again. I have scratch n sniff brochures we produced in 2005 that are still as fragrant when you scratch them as they were when first printed. Sixthscents and Print-A-Scent produce our microencapsulated slurry and we specialize in fragrance printing. So it was a natural to put a scent on our Holiday Greeting and also quite memorable.
    Mary Englund @ Amidon Graphics