Gabby clutched a pink bear in one hand and her mom's hand in the other. "It makes me want to go to Starbucks," said her mother, Ihrene Supapo, 25.
Not exactly what the California Milk Processor Board had in mind when it outfitted five San Francisco bus shelters with ads embedded with the smell of just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.
In the latest "Got Milk?" campaign, launched Monday, scented bus shelter advertisements made their U.S. debut, according to Louis Zafonte of Arcade Marketing, which designed the ads, building on decades of experience providing free sample strips of perfume, cosmetics and other consumer products.
"Scent is a primary driver of memory," Zafonte said. "When you smell baby powder or chocolate chip cookies, everyone feels good."
To overcome the frequent blasts of exhaust and the funky whiffs that often permeate a big-city bus shelter, scented oils were sandwiched between cardboard cards emblazoned with "Got Milk?" and affixed to shelter walls.
It costs about $30 per shelter, Zafonte said, and the smell should last one to two weeks depending on the location. The displays will last about a month.
Critics have complained the ads could be offensive to the poor and homeless who can't afford to buy sweet treats.
But shoppers near the Union Square shelter simply thought the ads were cute.
Nick Fedoroff, 32, said the smell might improve business at the Mrs. Fields cookie store a few steps away from the bus stop.
"I'm sure they'll be happy," he said. "It smells like they're right out of the oven."
By Kim Curtis