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McDonald’s French Fries-scented Billboards Coming to the U.S? Dove, BACARDÍ® Rum & More Brand Initiatives

McDonald's french fries-scented billboards also coming to the U.S? BACARDÍ® Rum, Pepsi, Dove, 99 Cents Only Stores, and other brands targeting the U.S. consumer right now.


McDonald’s French Fries-Scented Billboard Campaign…

McDonald's French Fries-Scented Billboard Campaign
Smells Like McDonald’s billboard in Leiden, The Netherlands

For decades, McDonald’s has seduced taste buds around the globe, making it one of the most beloved and recognizable brands out there. But the brand realized that there’s something just as memorable for consumers as their golden arches, products, or jingle: their smell. McDonald’s Netherlands put this to the test. A series of plain yellow and red billboards were placed in Utrecht and Leiden. The prints appear empty at first glance, but as passers-by approach within 5 meters, they are greeted with the distinct aroma of McDonald’s French Fries from inside the billboard. This is the first time a billboard has been used to diffuse the McDonald’s scent, making the recognizable smell its most important brand asset. Stijn Mentrop-Huliselan, CMO McDonald’s Netherlands, states: “McDonald’s is all about Good Times. We are well known for our distinctive brand assets, which are primarily visual. Smell has been proven more effective at sparking clear and emotional memories than images. By including this next sense in our advertising, we found a new way to remind people of Good Times at McDonald’s.” The billboards were strategically placed within 200 meters of McDonald’s restaurants, inviting those with triggered cravings to swing by and order their favorite McDonald’s products quickly. According to the press release issued by McDonald’sm “when every brand is targeting eyeballs, McDonald’s targets noses.” Digital scent technology (olfactory technology) is the engineering discipline for olfactory representation. It is a technology for sensing, transmitting, and receiving scent-enabled digital media (such as motion pictures, video games, virtual reality, extended reality, web pages, and music). Using sensors and Wi-Fi connectivity, the billboards can detect when someone is nearby and adjust their scent emissions accordingly.

…coming to the U.S?

It is unclear whether a similar french fries-scented billboard campaign will be coming to the U.S.  McDonald’s has issued no statement implying it will do so. One caveat would be that a similar campaign, like the one in the Dutch cities of Leiden or Utrecht Netherlands, would make sense in dense urban areas with heavy foot traffic, such as New York City’s Manhattan, Chicago’s Loop, or Miami’s Brickell area, and less or not at all in the many suburban areas many U.S. based McDonald’s are located in. Those areas are all accessed via cars, and the impact of the french fries scent for car drivers would be much lower if any at all.  Scented billboards are more effective in-store or in indoor retail centers like malls. As of February 13, 2024, there were 13,528 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. California, with 1,224 restaurants, is the state and territory with the most McDonald’s locations in the US, accounting for about 9% of all McDonald’s restaurants in the US.
Cinnabon, the bakery restaurant chain known for its cinnamon rolls, is famous for using aroma billboard marketing. Cinnabon stores are strategically located inside malls and airports, not outside, which helps the store’s scent linger longer. Brands like Abercrombie and Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, and Nike have harnessed the power of scent marketing for retail stores.

A french fries-scented billboard campaign would make sense in dense urban areas with heavy foot traffic, such as New York City’s Manhattan, Chicago’s Loop, or Miami’s Brickell area, and less or no senset at all in the many suburban areas many U.S. based McDonald’s are located in.

Another aspect governing scented billboard advertising campaigns like McDonald’s is regulations: advertisers must consider various country, state, and local regulations worldwide, depending on the location and the nature of the products or services being promoted. Combined with those on local and state roads, there are likely over 2 million billboards in the United States today. Four states prohibit all billboards: Maine, Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii. Larger cities with prohibitions on new billboards include Houston, Los Angeles, St. Paul, and Kansas City.

  • Pepsi®

Pepsi® announced the premiere date for its first-ever streaming series, “Talking Sabor,” a food-focused collaboration with restaurateur and celebrity chef, Aarón Sánchez and COCINA, which he co-founded. During the eight-episode, limited edition program, Chef Aarón and Pepsi invite food enthusiasts and flavor aficionados to talk sabor (flavor) like never before at some of the most diverse Latin food eateries nationwide. In a bold and entertaining in-car interview style format, Chef Aarón and a lineup of special guests visit 16 restaurants in four major cities to showcase the best of Hispanic culture, community, and cuisine.Pepsi® announced the April 24 premiere date for “Talking Sabor,” a limited-edition series streaming exclusively on Hulu that celebrates the fusion of Latin cuisine and culture in eateries across the U.S. “Talking Sabor” is a creative collaboration between PepsiCo, Chef Aarón Sánchez and MECENAS Media.The series sees Sánchez visiting Hispanic-owned small businesses in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and New York, where his focus is solely on celebrating flavor and the special feeling you get when sharing delicious food with friends and family. “Talking Sabor” is one of the newest and largest initiatives as part of the Mejor con Pepsi (Better with Pepsi) brand campaign, which highlights the rich diversity of Latin cuisine while reminding fans that no matter your Latin food preference, every dish is always #MejorConPepsi. This year, the brand partnered with PepsiCo Juntos Crecemos (Together We Grow), an enterprise-wide initiative to support restaurants, bodegas, and carnicerías, to amplify the Mejor con Pepsi efforts. Each restaurant featured on “Talking Sabor” is part of the Juntos Crecemos platform, which provides support to help them grow and scale their businesses while contributing to the economic prosperity of local communities.

  • BACARDÍ® Rum 

Bacardí® Rum announced pop superstar Camila Cabello as the new face of the brand, kicking off a multi-year partnership under the BACARDÍ global Do What Moves You platform. In her first-ever spirits collaboration, the artist stars in a campaign spot set to her new song “I LUV IT,” now available on all major streaming platforms. This is the first single off her highly anticipated fourth album arriving this summer, C, XOXO.   The creative was captured by director Nicolás Méndez, Co-Founder of CANADA and a go-to director for international hitmakers including Rosalia, Travis Scott, and Tame Impala. His cinematic vision, developed in partnership with BBDO New York, features the popstar moving to the beat of her infectious new track. The choreography was brought to life by Marine Brutti, Jonathan Debrouwer, and Arthur Hare of (LA)HORDE, while Cabello’s bold new looks were created in collaboration with celebrity stylist Jared Ellner, makeup artist Ash K Holm, hairstylist Dimitris Giannetos, and nail artist Tom Bachick. Beyond the new creative, BACARDĺ will continue to support the star through the release of her new album with a series of upcoming events and performances across the world, all featuring the I LUV IT Punch. The campaign will air on global broadcast and be amplified through various social and online video channels, with additional support via out-of-home billboards and still imagery. C, XOXO will be released on global streaming platforms this summer.

  • eBay  

Online marketplace eBay has initiated a global media agency review, as confirmed by the company. The current agency handling the media, EssenceMediacom (awarded the role in 2019), will partake in the review, according to a spokesperson cited by Mediapost. Agency research firm COMvergence estimates that eBay invests approximately US$395 million annually in measured media. The review process, managed internally by the online marketplace, is slated for completion by the end of the second quarter. Reports suggest EssenceMediacom intends to retain the account, although other participating agencies have not been specified.



  • Kroger 

The Kroger Co. announced it is kicking off Cinco de Mayo with a four-week Latin flavors event. Customers are invited to experience savory Latin cuisine and explore the vibrant world of Latin flavors waiting for them at Kroger. Customers can look forward to a complete Latin flavor Kroger take including Murray’s cheese demos and plenty of sampling opportunities, including these delicious recipes that can easily be recreated at home: Yucatecan Chicken Tacos, Empanadas with Pork and Potatoes or Picadillo, Garlic Lime Fajitas and Grilled Mexican Street Corn. Clients can discover new culinary adventures with vibrant tastes, authentic recipes, and fresh Latin-themed, palate-pleasing meals and products available in-store and online. Be sure to check out Kroger® Mercado which celebrates the tradition of Latin American foods with authentically inspired products. The line includes a range of items including core Hispanic ingredients needed to make a favorite treasured recipe to deliciously sweet and refreshing beverages. Customers can shop these items and more in-store or through Kroger Pickup and Delivery, offering the same products at the same low prices no matter how they shop. Save even more with Boost by Kroger Plus, the delivery membership that can save customers up to US$1,000 per year on fuel and grocery delivery. Eligible customers can now try the Boost membership with a free 30-day trial and subscribe every month for as little as US$7.99. 

Portada LiveAt this exclusive event on September 19, 2024 brand decision-makers and marketing service suppliers will share and accelerate knowledge on crucial topics, including marketing in a multicultural America,  contextual advertising, e-commerce marketing, and sports/soccer marketing. To find out about thought leadership and networking solutions at Portada Live involving many brand decision-makers, don’t hesitate to contact Sales Director Irma Gutierrez at [email protected].

  • Dove

Dove Logo

Singer-songwriter Jessie J partners with Dove to mark 20 years of the Campaign For Real Beauty and commits to keeping beauty ‘real’ by never using AI to represent real women in its ads at Outernet London on April 9, 2024, in London. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) threatens the representation of natural beauty today, Dove commits to never using AI to represent real women in its ads. 20 years ago, Dove showed the world what beauty looks like when it’s natural with the Campaign for Real Beauty. In 2004, it began with a startling truth; only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful. Since then, the Campaign for Real Beauty has challenged society, media, and the beauty industry to change its representation of women, be transparent about digital distortion, and face up to the harmful impact of unrealistic beauty standards on women and girls.
To mark 20 years of the Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove conducted a sweeping study of beauty worldwide to understand how beauty impacts women and girls today. While there has been some positive change, the state of beauty in 2024 isn’t pretty. The outsized value society placed on appearance has intensified the pressure to be a specific type of beautiful. In its 2024 The Real State of Beauty: A Global Report Online survey conducted by Edelman DXI (Data x Intelligence), in 20 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, KSA, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Türkiye, the USA, and the UK., finds that 2-in-5 would give up a year to achieve an ideal look or body. The study shows that while beauty ideals have diversified over the years, the checklist is growing and impossible to meet – from looking healthy (79%) to also being slim (71%), having a tiny waist (66%) while also being curvy (55%). 2 in 3 women believe that women today are expected to be more physically attractive than their mother’s generation was. Artificial Intelligence is one of the biggest threats to the representation of natural beauty. Today, almost 9 in 10 women and girls say they have been exposed to harmful beauty content online. With 90% of the content online predicted to be AI-generated by 2025*, the rise of AI is a threat to women’s wellbeing: nearly half feel pressure to alter their appearance because of what they see online, even when they know it’s fake or AI generated. Artificial intelligence perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards and lacks representation further through the content it creates. While AI has the potential to foster creativity and access to beauty, with 1 in 4 women (28%) and almost 1 in 2 girls (41%) agreeing that being able to create different versions of yourself using AI is empowering, there is still a need for greater representation and transparency.


H/L  announced that the Kansas City Toyota Dealers Association (KCTDA) has selected H/L, a full-service advertising agency, to take over all paid search, planning, and management starting in April 2024. The KCTDA region encompasses a large portion of the Midwest, spanning 28 designated market areas (DMAs) as well as 74 individual Toyota dealerships. This will be an expansion of H/L’s partnership with Toyota, as H/L has represented the Northern California Toyota Dealers Association for over 34 years. In addition to H/L’s data analytics and media expertise, it is well-established in the business of selling cars. 



  • 99 Cents

American discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores has announced plans to start an orderly closure of its business operations.  The retailer has reached an agreement with financial services company Hilco Global to sell off all inventory and clear out fixtures, furnishings, and equipment from its stores. Despite exploring various options with financial and legal advisors to avoid closure, 99 Cents now sees an organized shutdown as the most effective way to get the most value from its assets. Liquidation sales will start on April 5, 2024, across all 371 locations. Hilco Real Estate will oversee the sale of the company’s real estate holdings in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas. Chris Wells of Alvarez & Marsal has been named the chief restructuring officer, while interim CEO Mike Simoncic will resign.


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