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Toledo firm’s scents turning heads, noses

SensoryMax marketer of year for ‘‍Essence of Lincoln’ aroma

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    The SensoryMax logo.

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    Michael Seay, director of SensoryMax, says scents are as powerful and identifiable as any logo.

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The sweet smell of success.

That’s what a Toledo company is experiencing after winning a top award in the relatively new field of aroma marketing.

Scent marketing is a growing industry that allows companies to establish brand identity using a distinctive scent.

Last week, SensoryMax was named the Harald Vogt Scent Market of the Year. SensoryMax is a division of Madison Avenue Marketing Group, with offices in downtown Toledo.

Michael Seay, the director of SensoryMax, accepted the award, which was presented during ScentWorld, the industry’s premier marketing event.

“We use signature scents as a marketing tool because they’re just as powerful and identifiable as a logo. People are beginning to understand that aroma is an essential component of a brand and, at the same time, a real differentiator,” Mr. Seay said.

SensoryMax won for its “Essence of Lincoln” scent being used at Lincoln Motor Co. dealerships. Lincoln is a division of Ford Motor Co., which has encouraged its dealers to update their facilities in the last few years. As they did, they were given the option of introducing aroma marketing.

Mr. Seay said Rene Morganthaler, one of the world’s best-known perfumers, came up with the right scent for Lincoln dealerships.

Perfumers combine a variety of scents that appear at different times, depending on how long a person is exposed to them.

Mr. Seay said the “top notes” — the scents that show up first — are green tea and Earl Grey bergamot citrus. Next come the “middle notes,” jasmine and orange flower. Finally, the base notes — tonka beans and mate leaves — reveal themselves.

SensoryMax uses a cold diffusion method to send the scent wafting through the dealerships through the heating and air conditioning system.

But Lincoln isn’t stopping there.

“Lincoln sent out tens of thousands of mailers to previous Lincoln owners” that included the scent, Mr. Seay said. The company is also using service-reminder cards, promotional items, and other things to help anchor the scent in customers’ brains.

“As we transform our dealer network to provide a higher level of client experience, we look for ways to engage the senses of every visitor,” said Enza Sleva, the client experience manager for Lincoln. “The Essence of Lincoln scent is an extension of that initiative. We applaud SensoryMax for this recent honor and thank them for helping shape the future of the Lincoln showroom experience.”

Madison Avenue Marketing has 46 employees, 18 of whom are associated with SensoryMax, the division that does aroma marketing, audio marketing, and video marketing.

The company’s other divisions do on-hold telephone marketing/​music and Web site marketing.

Other companies SensoryMax has worked with include Miami-based Ocean Bank and Virginia Tire & Auto. The latter company, which has 14 locations in the Washington area, rebranded its facilities with a new color scheme and what Mr. Seay called the mint/​lime scent of a mojito. Surveys showed the changes made the stores much more attractive to female customers, who make up about half of the company’s visitors, Mr. Seay said.

Contact Chip Towns at: or 419-724-6194.

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