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Dive Brief:

  • Liberty Mutual is running new car-scented print ads to promote auto insurance to people in the market to buy a vehicle, according to a blog post by San Francisco-based ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, who worked with the insurance company on the effort.
  • The print ad print ran in the April 28 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times, as reported by Ad Age. The copy reads: “If you’re thinking about a new car, think about Liberty Mutual.” Consumers can open a flap to take a whiff.
  • The idea for the campaign came from research suggesting that most car buyers wait until making a purchase to think about insurance. Because smells help memory formation, connecting the scent of a new car to the insurance ad is expected to create a subconscious Pavlovian response reminding car shoppers of Liberty during test drives, per the agency.
Scent-based marketing has been around for years in the perfume world and in retail, but an ad that smells like a new car is more unusual. With consumers bombarded with ads and content throughout their day, marketers are looking for ways to stand out and grab an audience’s attention, with scent marketing one option. Liberty Mutual may be one of the first insurance companies to adopt this approach as it looks to connect its brand with the excitement of shopping for a new car, which arguably is the more fun part of the customer lifecycle than buying insurance.

The Liberty Mutual effort arrives as other brands outside the beauty category have been experimenting with different ways of tapping into a consumer’s sense of smell. For example, Coca Cola promoted a new cinnamon-scented product during its holiday campaign in the UK this past Christmas. The Oxford Circus Underground station in London was “cinnamon-scented” to remind consumers of Christmas.

As U.S. car sales weaken, auto brands are experimenting with creative ways to reach consumers. BMW sponsored a 6-episode podcast for foodies called “The Special.” Alfa Romeo recently used a 3D gaming and musical experience and, last year,Toyota created an interactive foldout ad for its 2018 Camry that simulated measuring readers’ heart rates inside of an issue of InStyle. These creative efforts are a reminder that engaging car buyers can happen outside of 30-second TV spots.

Source: Liberty Mutual tests car-scented ads to sell insurance | Marketing Dive