McDonald’s Just Debuted the World’s First Scented Billboard — Here’s Where to Find It

If you catch a whiff of McDonald’s fries while you’re walking down the street in the Netherlands, there’s a chance you might be standing near a billboard instead of the world-famous golden arches.

Yes, you read that right — a billboard. How disappointing.

In perhaps what amounts to one of the greatest Pavlovian pranks of all time, McDonald’s is tempting spud lovers with billboards that diffuse the enticing scent of the brand’s much-revered French fries — an aroma so iconic that the world’s most popular fast food chain didn’t even bother to print anything on the billboard, not even a logo. That means you might be looking around for that Happy Meal before discovering the covert opp.

The billboards in question were created by Amsterdam-based agency TBWA\Neboko, who collaborated with production company Raúl&Rigel to set up the rouse. The billboards, which are either blank red or yellow, have a hidden compartment where the legendary fries are secretly stored. An internal heat-and-ventilation system amplifies the smell, spreading the fraudulent impression that fries are nearby to anyone within approximately 16 feet of the display — hopefully tempting them in the process, AdWeek reports.

Rather than being an ongoing promotion, the billboards were installed as an on-site experiment. Passersby who were flummoxed by the ads were filmed for a YouTube film called “Smells Like McDonald’s” and were interviewed afterward to see if they could identify the scent. 

Spoiler: they could. 

“Smell has been proven to be more effective at sparking clear and emotional memories than images,” says Stijn Mentrop-Huliselan, CMO of McDonald's Netherlands. “With the inclusion of this next sense in our advertising, we found a new way to remind people of Good Times at McDonald's."

Well, here’s hoping you didn’t have any bad memories involving some Supersized fries.

If the billboard’s intended effect was successful, enticing people to purchase some fries after the strange olfactory experience, then thankfully, the ads were strategically placed within roughly a tenth of a mile of an actual McDonald’s location — so no one had to take a bite out of the billboards to get their fix.

McDonald's Debuts the World's First Scented Billboards
McDonald’s scented billboards were created by Amsterdam-based agency TBWA\Neboko, which collaborated with production company Raúl&Rigel to set up the rouse. 


McDonald’s fries are a huge moneymaker for the company. While the iconic spuds are on the menu in the Netherlands, you might find their chunkier cousin, potato wedges, in some other spots around the globe. 

Chef Mike Haracz, former corporate chef for Mickey D’s, posted a video on TikTok this week focusing on the chain’s Worldwide Convention, where you're likely to have no trouble finding some fries.

Once you get over the fact that McDonald’s both has a corporate chef and a Worldwide convention, what he had to share was pretty interesting. According to Haracz, potato wedges are on the menu in Greece, Lebanon, Russia, Malta, Egypt, the UK, France, Hong Kong, Australia, Latin America, and Switzerland. 

In his video, Haracz speculates that wedges won’t be seen in the United States because the chain doesn’t want to offer anything that might compete with its fries on the menu. 

Other items Haracz says we’re missing out on Stateside include a Lotus Biscoff McFlurry, which you can score in Cyrus and Germany, and spicy black pepper garlic McNuggets that are available exclusively in Japan.

McDonald’s Worldwide Convention is currently going down in Barcelona, Spain. This year is the first year the chain has held a corporate event outside of North America since its inaugural conference in 1965.

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