Extra! Extra! Newspaper Smells Like a Baby

Baby toiletries giant Johnson & Johnson has taken out full-page ads in The Times of India that have been scented with the company's marquee baby powder.Imagine you’re reading a real, made-from-trees newspaper. Yes, I understand that this could take a good deal of imagining since, to many, the idea of reading your news on actual paper seems about as anachronistic as driving around in Fred Flintstone’s foot-powered car. (I say this with love, as a former newspaper reporter.)

But back to our newspaper daydream: Sure, at first you’re confronted with headlines about war, disease, poverty and whatever incredibly newsworthy thing Canadian pop stars are doing that week. But then — then! — you find that the paper has gone beyond the visual and, rather, has begun to engage your olfactory sense with a familiar, pleasing scent.

Is it? Could it be? Why, yes, that is the gentle aroma of baby powder. In a newspaper.

By the way, as long as we’re imagining things, you should imagine yourself in India while reading said fragrant paper.

Baby product giant Johnson & Johnson has taken out full-page ads in The Times of India that have been scented with the company’s marquee baby powder, as Quartz reported this week.

It’s a powerful marketing move, Quartz’s Heather Timmons writes, because “you can flip past an ad… but it’s hard to ignore a smell, especially one that comes with as many heart string-yanking associations as the scent of a baby.”

While I haven’t actually flown to India to sniff the paper, I can certainly see Timmons’ point. I have to assume the ad is especially compelling to new moms. Personally, I’m not sure it would actually sell me on baby powder, though.

In those painful first few weeks of commuting back to work after the end of my first maternity leave, I don’t think I would have liked smelling baby powder on the newspaper I used to grab before hitting the subway. I missed my son plenty already — the baby-like scent might have just caused me to collapse in a puddle of hormonal tears on the A train… but it wouldn’t have necessarily had me running to a baby store.

Still, when it comes to grabbing folks’ attention at the very least, Johnson & Johnson is clearly succeeding. It surely doesn’t hurt that in India, unlike here, the newspaper business is thriving.

To that end, don’t expect to see baby-powder scented newspapers coming to the states — or elsewhere — anytime soon. I checked in with Johnson & Johnson — a spokeswoman told me the company has “no plans to introduce the ads in other markets at this time.”

If you’re a newspaper reader outside of India who prefers the smell of babies to the smell of newsprint, don’t be too disappointed. After all, there’s nothing stopping you from sprinkling baby powder on your own paper. Just make sure to save some for the baby.



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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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