The Beiersdorf-owned company teamed up with Vietnam-based advertising agency Happiness FCB to create the technology, which involves a special phone case containing the hardware to detect consumers’ aromas, and let them know when it’s time to freshen up.
Nivea calls it “the world’s first electronic nose for smartphones”, and says it will allow your mobile to smell and tell you if ‘it’s okay’, ‘it’s time’, or ‘it’s urgent’, referring to your level of personal pong.
The app and hardware has been launched initially in Belgium, with reports suggesting that the company intends to roll it out worldwide.
The technology behind the smell-sensing app isn’t as science-fiction as it sounds, according to the company. The cover contains the hardware to detect body odour, the app’s ad explains, and works by breaking down chemical compounds into electrical currents, which it then reads.
“Two kinds of sensors which break down the chemical bonds of compounds in the air, and when those compound are broken apart they generate electrons,” explains Brian Kinkade, VP of new applications development for SPEC Sensors, in the app’s advert.
“Those freed electrons create low levels of current, which we turn into a voltage and then that’s the signal of how much concentration of a bad smell for good smell is coming to the sensor.”
"Basically,” Nivea Men explained of the logic behind the app to adweek.com, “Men usually have no idea when they smell awful. The other part of the problem is that our nose is so used to our own body odour that we cannot smell our own sweat.”
The launch of the app follows a recent campaign by the company in India, which tested the water on odour-focussed advertising.
The campaign centred on the hashtag #BanBodyOdour, and plugged the brand’s Body Deodorizer range via promoting the idea that body odour has the potential to restrict social and personal interaction.
“Body odour is a problem which is relevant to many, but most avoid talking about it. The challenge for the brand was to create relevance around the problem without triggering the defence mechanism of 'not for me',” marketing director of Nivea India, Sunil Gadgil, explained of the campaign.
The launch of the Nose app suggests Nivea believes it’s sniffed out a real marketing success with tackling body odour.