When I was in fourth grade, we had to come up with an invention. Sugar-obsessed, I created a bottle of scented air that would perfume a bakery with fresh-baked smells, such as chocolate chip cookies, enticing people to enter. At 10, I was big on ideas but short on financing and research.
Two decades and thousands of scents later, a company called ScentAir is using the same approach and has more than 2,000 scents in its library, from the obscure (dinosaur breath) to the delectable (caramel apple).
In addition to theme parks, retail stores and hotel chains, the company also has an unlikely client: a professional football team. That’s because the St. Louis Rams believe in the sweet smell of success.
“One of the first things we wanted to do here was to look at all the ways we can improve the game-day experience for families,” says Brian Killingsworth, vice president of marketing and brand strategy for the Rams. “We wanted to create a positive first impression for fans when they first walk into the stadium and we trigger their senses.”
After sampling more than 50 scents, including popcorn, waffle cones, caramel apples and sugar cookies, the Rams execs went with cotton candy (ScentAir’s official description of the aroma: “Warm, softly spun sugar notes with hints of raspberry”).
Now, cotton candy is the first thing fans smell as they arrive at the game.
The process is simple. The scent is pumped through the HVAC systems at the two main entrances at Edward Jones Dome. While ScentAir declined to share an exact price, a company official says its services range from $100 a month for a small storefront to thousands a month for a more complicated space. That price includes everything from the scent development and selection to delivery systems.
Killingsworth says the return on investment is hard to measure, but he believes the first year was successful. To his surprise, concessions sales went up -- including cotton candy. It bodes well for the future of sports and scented air.
“This is something we hope to expand upon next year,” Killingsworth said. “I like the idea of using different scents in different areas of the building. The premium areas have different scents as well.”
On that note, I asked ScentAir about the possibility of pumping its “fresh, electronic smell” through my apartment full-time. They said that at the moment they only have “burnt wiring.”
Maybe there’s still time to coin my invention.