McDonald’s Netherlands put up unbranded billboards that smell like French fries

The work shows that fans know the Golden Arches by smell

Published On
Apr 09, 2024
McDonald's Nederland OOH display with solid color red and restaurant scent

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Could you name a brand by its smell? It seems that McDonald’s fans in the Netherlands can.

In a fun out-of-home campaign, rightly called “Smells like McDonald’s," set out to prove that fans know McDonald’s just by smell, no logos or packaging needed. A series of yellow or red billboards were placed in Utrecht and Leiden, all with a compartment containing several boxes of McDonald’s fries, whose scent is pumped into the street. The billboards were strategically placed within 200 yards of a McDonald’s, so smellers could satisfy their triggered cravings. 


“We are well known for our distinctive brand assets, but they are mostly visual,” Stijn Mentrop-Huliselan, chief marketing officer at McDonald’s Netherlands said in a statement. “Smell has been proven to be more effective at sparking clear and emotional memories than images.”

“We are always looking for ways to give iconic brand assets their own place in culture. The smell of McDonald’s French Fries is one of those iconic features,” said Darre van Dijk, chief creative officer at TBWA\Neboko.

McDonald’s isn’t the first brand to lean into a certain smell that customers identify. In 2022, Philadelphia cream cheese put a diffuser in select grocery stores. Luxury hotels create signature scents to keep guests coming back. Other companies have released candles tied to the brand in some way, including Ikea’s meatball candle, KFC’s gravy candle, and Chipotle’s lemonade candle.


Apr 09, 2024
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