Bank Leumi has a new trick up its sleeve. It has decided to use smell marketing to get Israelis to invest more money. It is not a new concept, and one used by everyone from sleezy car salesmen to shop owners around the world. Smells play with our senses; they trigger old memories and can cause us to be more indulgent or relaxed when in the position to spend our cash.Last month a story in the Israeli paper Yedioth Aharonoth (in Hebrew) reported that Leumi has launched a pilot project that will waft green tea smells through the bank. The tea smell, plus some pleasant music in the background, will prod the Israeli consumer into investing more cash in the bank, the bankrollers probably hope.Now what in the world does this have to do with the environment, you might be asking yourself? Well a lot. We haven’t investigated the source of the smells this bank is using, but we can imagine they are synthetic compounds designed to give the most potent smell possible.While some smells are considered pleasant to people, there are others who are allergic to having their olfactory glands stimulated; and find most smells repulsive – even if they are considered good. It is also known that many of the common compounds used in fragrants and in households cleaners are not only obnoxious, but poisonous as well – potentially even cancer-causing.Smell marketing has become very trendy in some parts of the world – such as in Parisian shops where we have had the bizarre experience of smelling fried chicken and fried fish at the Lafayette Mall; used care dealers are spraying a synthetic “new car” smell onto tattered upholstery to give the impression that the car is much newer than it is.We find the whole practice to be very sneeky and immoral. Is smell just another one of our senses that advertisers are going to own? They already play with lighting and appeal to our minds with sensational adverts. Next thing you know they will be pumping it through our TVs and computers.Advertising to our olfactory glands is a form of subliminal advertising in our books. And reminds us of the first subliminal study delivered to the American public in the 1950s by James Vicary, an advertising exec.Vicary’s study took place at movie theaters in which the words “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat Popcorn” were spliced into the film in a way that the audience didn’t notice – well at least in their conscious minds anyway.Vicary found that popcorn and Coke sales soared and jumped from from 57.7% and 18.1% respectively.Smell messaging can be subtle cues and used so lightly that they pass below our limits of perception. They are invisible in the concious mind, yet linger around in our unconcious. Who knows what emotions they are going to play on.Sound like something you want to be subjected to?UPDATEWe just spoke with the bank’s spokesperson and they claim that they have no interest in manipulating their clients. They want this test of theirs to be out in the open, simply to make clients feel more comfortable, and not apprehensive, when they come to the bank. More later.