PARIS, FRANCE — As drug-impaired driving accounts for 21% of traffic fatalities in France, claiming 700 lives annually, Victimes & Citoyens, a French nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for road safety and supporting those affected by traffic accidents, has joined forces with creative agency Fred & Farid Paris. Together, they have launched a thought-provoking road safety campaign called “The Smell of Death.”
This campaign harnesses the power of scent-printing technology, using a varnish containing microcapsules that release a cannabis aroma when touched. The campaign is being introduced through a double-page spread in 100,000 copies of the French soccer magazine So Foot, a publication whose readership includes individuals most exposed to driving under the influence of cannabis.
The layout invites readers to rub the page on the reverse side to discover “The Smell of Death”. In doing so they are introduced to the smell of cannabis and a visual of a man driving recklessly and about to cause an accident.
“The Smell of Death” campaign taps into the sense of smell, which is often underused in advertising. By employing the olfactory sense, the initiative seeks to influence behavior and raise public awareness. Smell is a powerful memory stimulant and is more potent and rapid in evoking responses than other sensory perceptions. The combination of smell and vision is what makes this communication strategy so compelling.
The campaign’s objective is to educate drivers about the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis, reflecting the media’s increasing concern about drug-impaired driving.
Julien Thibault, President of Victimes & Citoyens, said, “The image that cannabis and other drugs still unfortunately convey is one of ‘coolness.’ However, there is nothing cool or responsible about driving when our senses are impaired by psychoactive substances.” Julien highlighted the campaign’s ability to raise alarm and create an association between the scent and the dangers of drug-related driving.
Victims & Citizens and FRED & FARID Paris are considering a follow-up campaign that would incorporate the scent of alcohol to further emphasize the dangers of impaired driving.