Printing a scent

RubnSmell-smPrint is visual, print is tactile, and now it can also smell good. A recent scent application called Rub’nSmell by Scentisphere means that printers can embed a combination of 60 distinct smells during the printing process. An interesting offering to clients, you could run jobs with a scent of cherries, roses or … stinky cheese?

The whole “scratch-and-sniff” technique is not new, but recent advancements in the field have resonated with some advertisers – and also their audiences. It can be used on items such as catalogs, coupons, labels, direct mail and packaging. Major brand-name companies have been using it as a way to attract customers for products like shampoos, soaps and detergents.

“Research shows scents produce emotional responses, often leading people to spend more time considering a brand which can impact buying decisions,” says Nick Carafa, executive VP of sales for Packaging Graphics, a US-based printer who offers a Rub’nSmell application to its customers.

RubnSmell-lgScentisphere is the company behind the Rub’nSmell program. Here’s how it works: The scent (everything from mint to watermelon) is contained within thousands of microscopic urethane nanocapsules that are activated when rubbed.  The product has an unlimited life cycle that remains dormant until called into action.  The capsules are set in a varnish stage of the print process, applied inline as a fifth color or coating.  Transparent and non-obtrusive, they are usually applied over graphics.

Scentisphere says: On-package sampling with Rub’nSmell not only creates a distinct competitive advantage at point of sale but also enables customers to engage and interact with the product without opening (and damaging) the product package.

Of the 60 scents available (it is also possible to use a custom-made one), there are typical aromas such as apple, cherry, chocolate and rose. But then there are also a few more interesting and obscure scents like: asphalt, BBQ, cedar, french fries, grass, leather, smoke and even stinky cheese!

The product is supplied as an overprint varnish or coating, just like a fifth colour or spot coating. There is apparently virtually no visual effect to the printed graphics underneath. Scentisphere says it can be used for heat-set and sheet-fed offset overprint varnish, aqueous coating for offset, flex and silk screen applications, gravure overprint varnish, as well as UV and EB overprint varnish. More information is available on the Scentisphere website here.