Warmth (but not stuffing) to fall from Chicago-land bus stops

In an effort to sell its Stove Top brand of stuffing, Kraft Foods plans to have heated air fall from inside 10 bus shelters in Chicago, according to a New York Times story. At least people waiting for a bus won't be bombarded with the smell of turkey stuffing, although it is a great smell worthy of filling a kitchen on Thanksgiving Day.

Some, however, may get a free taste of a new variety of Stove Top, called Quick Cups, that Kraft workers will hand out during the first three weeks of December to commuters and passers-by at half of the heated shelters.

The ads remind me of the failed ads by the California Milk Processor Board two years ago in San Francisco, where "Got Milk?" ads were pulled from bus stops after people complained of being overwhelmed by the smell of chocolate chip cookies, in the first test of scented outdoor advertising. Warm chocolate chips out of the oven are one thing, but scented strips in a bus stop are too much, the public complained. The ad's pitch was that after smelling the cookies, you'd want a cold glass of milk. Considering how the original "Got Milk" ad has become part of the popular vernacular, you'd think the Milk Board could stop trying so hard.

Activists complained the smell could trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions in people who are scent sensitive. Advertising officials said the scented strips didn't use any chemicals and weren't a health risk to the public, but complied with the request to remove the ads anyway.

So at least the Stove Top ads are only full of hot air, which will probably be appreciated at the 10 bus shelters in downtown Chicago where they're installed with posters that read "Cold provided by winter. Warmth, provided by Stove Top." The posters will also appear on 40 other bus shelters that won't have heated roofs. They'll be the first bus shelter heaters in the United States, according to the company installing them.

The only smells coming from the bus stops will be natural, which might make commuters wish for the smell of warm stuffing.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com

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