The scratch-n-sniff ad is the latest gambit from the LA Times to attract print advertising and boost reader engagement with ads. Recently, the paper's publisher David Hiller said it would begin selling ads on the front page. The paper's financial woes were publicized during the auction of its corporate owner, the Tribune Company.
The scented ad uses special soy-based ink in marked areas of the print advertisement, which readers can scratch to experience the (presumably delicious) smell. While some may wrinkle their nose at the unexpected olefactory intrusion, scented ads and other "interactive" print ads" enjoy a high degree of reader engagement and recall.
In February of this year, GfK Starch published a study which found that "spectacular" magazine ads--including multi-page spreads, three-dimensional pop-ups, scented ads and ads with an audio component--produce a big bump in measures like brand recall and the number of readers that read ad copy. Philip W. Sawyer, senior vice president of Starch Communications Research, added that readership of ad copy increases 136% when a scent strip is included.