Can’t help it — “scratch-and-sniff” — the phrase, the concept — has always sounded vulgar to me. I really don’t care who first had the idea for scratch-and-sniff or how special the technology is that makes it work. Playing scratch-and-sniff with a perfume or cleaning product sample inside a magazine has never tempted me.
But even I have had to take notice of the first use of scratch-and-sniff on the cover of a magazine. Something about this really appeals to me.
The magazine in question is Sactown, which focusses on Sacramento, CA, and is the four-year-old brainchild of spouses Rob Turner and Elyssa Lee. The May 2010 issue was to have an illustration of a mandarin orange on the cover. Naturally, someone got the idea to make that orange smell like an orange.
Joseph Plambeck, writing in The New York Times on June 7, 2010, described the questions that this idea provoked — for example, “Would the smell rub off on the back covers of other magazines?” — and the answers that resulted in what seems to be (according to the trade group Magazine Publishers of America) the first-ever such use of scratch-and-sniff.
As Mr. Turner said in the Times — after noting that the May issue was expected to be the best-selling in Sactown’s young life — “I don’t know that we’re changing the world. But we’re getting a good reaction out of people.”
“Good reaction” — sounds like plain old fun. Now that’s an idea.