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New Straits Times Sensory Guru

THERE is something disturbing about being manipulated. But when it is done in such a pleasurable manner, one hardly minds. And how exactly is one being “manipulated”? Through hearing and smell! Do I hear a sceptical “Really?” coming from you? Well, I carried out an
“experiment” in my very own office. Yes, a buzzing newsroom where journalists are more often than not overworked, under pressure and generally stressed out.
My fellow “scientist” was Simon Faure-Field, CEO of eight-year- old Equal Strategy. The man is responsible for companies such as Shangri-La hotel subliminally manipulating your senses.
Simon installed a portable unit in my office that dispenses ever so discreetly a fragrance that will promote, well, productivity. The secret fragrance is peppermint. Simon also came armed with a bottle of chocolate fragrance which we all know is an  aphrodisiac!
What “havoc” that might have caused, eh? But I thought my bosses would rather have us be more productive.
This little unit is available for rent for around RM4O a day and was left to dispense peppermint into the air for around 10 days  in our office. It covers an area of around six metres by six metres.
And the result? Look, let’s not jump the gun here. Let Simon explain a little more about the whole business of subliminal divinity. Or in other words, subtle manipulation.
“It started with a passion to want to make things better,” explained Simon.  “Companies often do not reflect what their print ads promise or project. For instance, an advertisement for a bank promotes a young lifestyle but in reality, their physical service is conservative, behind the times and inefficient.” That is when and where Equal Strategy comes in.
“Consistency is key. What you see from its advertisement should be evident when you have contact with the company. You should be able to experience and witness the advertisement physically.”
Equal Strategy will be the mirror that helps reflect a company’s brand positioning physically or pick up where an advertising agency leaves off. It will ensure that the phone service recordings are updated, the tone is upbeat and relays clear information about the company’s services. It will even tweak the music and licensing to suit the company’s desired positioning in the market and, most of all, it will ensure that when a customer walks in, there is a fragrance that welcomes them that might evoke, perhaps, desire and trust.
For instance, a desire to make unplanned purchases when in a retail store or to double that unit trust investment when in a bank.
Seriously, Equal Strategy (or Simon, for that matter) is not evil. He just knows his stuff.
“While peppermint boosts productivity, citrus is linked to vitality. Lavender or vanilla has a calming effect. The amazing one that is fantastic for Casinos due to its ability to change the molecular structure Of the brain to not recognise certain smells like smoke is odourfoyl,” said Simon.

 

 

These clever fragrances are developed and atomised into dry vapour before being injected into the air-conditioning systems of an establishment by an international company called Brandaroma.

Which is, in turn, the supplier for Equal Strategy. Couple that with an efficient voice phone-recording service and a long-range controlled little black box that houses the music tailor-made for each client, and the “layering” process is complete.
“When music and fragrance match, they have a higher success rate,” explained Simon. Simon may be soft spoken but he certainly knows how to enhance a company’s efficiency and
productivity.
In fact, a big furniture store in Singapore recorded a gross profit growth of 110 per cent after Equal Strategy had its way with the company’s phone recording and in-store music.
“Do you know when a home is home to you?” asked Simon. “When you don’t smell anything in your living space, it becomes home.
So, during the 10 days of peppermint smelling, here is what happened. A colleague who was not aware of the installation of the portable fragrance machine was due to attend a 24hour comic drawing marathon that weekend.
This is what he reported after: “Perhaps that is why I survived the marathon. When I stepped back into the office almost immediately after the marathon, I didn’t feel especially lethargic and I could proceed with work right away.”
Others made similar comments throughout the 10 days. One colleague wondered if he actually smelled what he thought he smelled.
The fragrance is subtle. After an hour or so, you don’t even know you are smelling it. A bit like “home” when you don’t smell it anymore, see? Don’t you think it is the most divine form of mental manipulation ever? You can’t even disagree.
Hey, you might be inhaling a Brandaroma fragrance installed by Equal Strategy right this very minute in your office. Think about it.

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