On the surface, this story by reporter Tanya O’Rourke of the UK’s Telegraph & Argus is a happy one: a case history of successful scent marketing or at least scent remediation. At another level, however, it’s rather disturbing.
It seems that people leaving their cars in a multistory parking garage in Bradford, England object to the smell of the facility’s stairwells. More specifically, they object to the smell created by other patrons peeing in the stairwells. A study by National Car Parks—the garage’s operator—found that no less than 35% of customers associate the stairways with the smell of urine.
NCP’s creative solution was to install battery-operated odorizers; the stairwells now smell of freshly laundered sheets. Nice.
But according to NCP area manager Ernie Bagshaw (what a perfect hobbit name!), the company
will have to be careful with their choice of smells and the way they would be pumped into the car park because of people suffering from things like asthma and hay fever.Right you are, Mr. Baggins. Focus on the possible adverse consequences of the pleasant fragrance, and not on the public health implications of rivulets of stale urine cascading down your stairs.
How about installing a public toilet?
How about telling people to shape the hell up?
A San Francisco vignette from a couple of summers ago: a well-groomed suburban lady is feeding a parking meter on Haight Street near Stanyan. She freezes and stares back in disbelief at the other end of her Chevy Suburban. I follow her gaze and find a wizened, leather-jacketed, Manson wannabe, fly unzipped, noisily hosing down her curbside rear wheel.
Little Charlie knew there was no chance of being told off by a cop, much less getting a summons. In 2003 the S.F. Board of Supervisors had debated mightily before declaring public urination a offense under municipal law. (Until then, you could be fined for failing to clean up after your dog, but not for defecating in public yourself.)
So what does a busted post-industrial town in West Yorkshire have in common with sophisticated San Francisco? A preference for politically correct cosmetic solutions.
Here’s a scent marketing tip: the best way to remove urine odor from parking garages is to exercise some common sense and moral indignation.