Cookie-Scented Ads Cause Stink In S.F.

A woman sits next to an advertisement for milk while waiting for a bus December 4, 2006 in San Francisco. The California Milk Processor Board has launched a new Got Milk? ad campaign that features five chocolate chip cookie scented bus shelters in downtown San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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A marketing campaign to promote milk by outfitting city bus shelters with cookie-scented cardboard strips has crumbled.

City officials ordered CBS Outdoor, the company that holds the advertising contract for its bus shelters, to remove the adhesive strips Tuesday, just one day after they were put up as part of a "Got Milk?" campaign.

The Municipal Transportation Agency canceled the plan after some residents raised objections. "We got complaints," said MTA spokeswoman Maggie Lynch. "It is controversial."

Some critics expressed concern over potential allergic reactions. Others complained the ads could be offensive to the poor and homeless who can't afford to buy sweet treats.

But shoppers near San Francisco's Union Square shelter Monday 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."

Scented oils were sandwiched between cardboard cards emblazoned with "Got Milk?" and affixed to shelter walls, in hopes that the smell of just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies would spark cravings for milk. The promotion was launched at five San Francisco bus shelters at a cost of about $30 per shelter.

There is nothing new about scent marketing — using smell to sell. Trying to lead people by the nose subliminally is a growing advertising technique, reported CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.