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Marketing the city of smells

Henshaw, V and Medway, D and Perkins, C and Warnaby, G (2015) Marketing the city of smells. Marketing Theory, 16.


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This article explores how smell might contribute to urban identity, building on the strong links between smell, limbic processing and emotion. It critically examines existing scent marketing, psychology, and urban olfaction literatures, exploring the potential for the marketing of urban places through smell and capitalizing in particular on ambient smells that already exist within a locale. The article makes an initial threefold contribution to theory and practice: (i) demonstrating the current use of smell in city marketing, and the inherent challenges arising; (ii) identifying ways in which smell might be used in future urban place marketing activities, and in particular to more explicitly communicate the experiential attributes of being in a particular city; and (iii) proposing that olfaction may, in certain circumstances, be an effective way of incorporating a more participatory modus operandi within urban place marketing effort. The article concludes with a further overarching theoretical contribution, involving a consideration of place marketing that incorporates non-representational perspectives.

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