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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Got... Cookies?

...I know many of us start pulling out the flour and sugar and chocolate at this time of year and fire up our ovens and KitchenAid mixers to churn out holiday cookies, but that's not what this is about.

Granted, I do still have to do my holiday baking with my MIL, but that's neither here nor there. This is about a new Got Milk campaign.

Yes, milk. What better to go with milk than cookies, right? Well, some ingenious marketing folks are hoping that the reverse is true. The folks behind the Got Milk campaigns aren't going to torture us with pictures of brownies and cookies to try and tempt us into thinking that we want milk with our cookies. They're going to make us *smell* them instead.

This holiday season, at bus stops everywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, you're going to be able to pick up the scent of freshly baked cookies thanks to the Got Milk folks. They've figured out how to release the scent of certain essential oils from adhesives affixed to billboards or the undersides of benches in bus shelters. They're hoping that the scent will trigger people into branding the smell of fresh baked cookies with the need for having a glass of milk.

Now, milk and cookies go together naturally, so it's not a big stretch for people to have milk with fresh warm cookies instead of having a soda or tea. But I think it is a stretch to think that the smell of fresh baked cookies is going to prompt someone into wanting a glass of milk.

I conducted a very unscientific survey when I heard this news. I asked B, a 9 year old, what would she want more if she smelled a fresh baked cookie smell - a glass of milk, or the cookie. The answer, unsurprisingly, was 'the cookie, duh!'.

Precisely. Duh. I smell the cookie, I want the cookie. I love the cookie (yes, think Hammie from 'Over The Hedge' here). That's what they're betting on though, so that you go for the natural match to a fresh baked cookie. Of course, some of us don't drink milk with our fresh baked cookies. Yes, I'm strange that way, but I digress.

But, interestingly, their plans have been foiled. You see, this campaign started Monday afternoon. The smell strips were taken down Tuesday afternoon (yesterday). Why? Well, there were some interesting protests to the smell strips - which were the first of their kind used in advertising a product like milk.

First you had people who were sensitive to smell complaining about the strips. Then you had the people who were concerned that some might have an allergic reaction to the smell of the strips. And last you had the homeless advocates against the strips.

Let's look at each one of those.

First of all, there's no scientific evidence that people would have an allergic reaction to a *smell*. I listen to Dr. Dean Edell go on about that yesterday for a while when the news came out that they were going to take down the strips from the bus shelters. He thought it was ridiculous, and I have to agree. But the nervous ninnys won that round.

Now you have the homeless advocates who were against the strips. What would they have to do with it? Well, they thought that the smell of fresh baked cookies permeating the bus shelters would be cruel to the homeless who decide to use the shelters as temporary homes from the elements. Yes, cruel. After all, the homeless have rights, right? And they should not have to be tortured by the smell of fresh baked cookies that they cannot have.

Well, I guess the next step is that we're going to have to have the burger joints ventilate thier smells better so that it doesn't waft into the air, and all the bakeries are going to have to close. Or every restaurant that opens out onto a street where a homeless might walk by to have a vacuum entryway that you enter for a moment before entering the establishment itself so that the scents don't escape.

Lastly you have those who are scent sensitive. Now, I know that there are those who are out there who complain about strong scents. I can understand that, as I start sneezing when I get too close to someone who has overwhelmed the room with a strong perfume or cologne. But to complain about the smell of fresh baked cookies? Come on, if you're in a bus shelter in San Francisco there are a lot stronger smells to deal with than the smell of fresh baked cookies. Remember, the homeless use those as homes. And bathrooms.

Since when was the smell of fresh baked cookies more offensive than the smell of a bus shelter that has housed a homeless drunk for the last 6 months?

But where are the baking challenged in all of this? Why aren't those who can't bake a cookie or boil water to save their lives complaining that they were being discriminated against with the smell of fresh baked cookies? I guess their coalition wasn't big enough to make news, or they've finally decided to stop hating all of us who can bake. And what about those who are lactose intolerant? I bet some of them stopped eating cookies because they don't want to deal with the fact that they can't have a lovely glass of cold milk with the warm gooey sugary fresh cookie. This is probably a smaller percentage of the population than those who are baking challenged, but still, the lactose intolerant have rights too. Where were they during all of this?

So, the milk campaign has been taken down because a scant few have ruined it for the rest of us. Isn't that always the way it goes in elementary school where the cookie and milk set run rampant? Even so, I thought the milk campaign was kind of smart...

... after all, I just love the cookie.