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The scent of Play-doh has just been trademarked

The unique smell of Play-doh brings memories of childhood flooding back. For parents and grandparents, it provides the opportunity to reminisce whilst spending time with the next generation.

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The scent described as sweet, slightly musky and vanilla-like with an overtone of cherry and salted dough is a bit of an extravagant description, but it is also immediately recognisable across the world and is a trusted and popular trademark scent.


Trademarking a smell can be difficult and can only be granted if the scent has no other function than to distinguish it from other products. As a result of being awarded the trademark, Play-doh created a successful social media marketing campaign engaging customers by asking them what the smell means to them and inviting them to share their own childhood memories.

Scent Marketing

Scent as a commercial and marketing tool is not often used to promote brands, as sound and visual campaigns tend to lead the way. However, by associating a brand with a recognisable smell, companies have a new opportunity to promote their business in innovative ways. Agencies such as Scent Marketing are working with clients on a range of different ways to utilise smell within their planning strategies.

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Industries including hotels, retailers and restaurants are beginning to invest in scent marketing with benefits including customers spending more time browsing, spending more money, and developing a loyalty and connection to the brand. This new way of marketing can work hand in hand with brand décor and in-house music, which can also help define a brand’s target market.


Our sense of smell is processed by the olfactory receptors in the brain, which are managed by the limbic system. This is the emotional command centre of the brain and can trigger a strong emotional response. As humans, we love to revel in nostalgia as discussed in this recent article in The Daily Express.

The relationship between smell and emotions is not a new one. In the 1900s, French writer Marcel Proust described the way that the smell of baking transported him back to his childhood. Of course, not everyone likes the same smells, and not everyone has the same positive memories associated with a particular smell. Aromas such as cinnamon and lavender are often associated with comfort, while mint and citrus tend to represent energy.

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