If you're after promotion, a pong will do you no wrong

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The Independent Online
Now this newspaper has ended its scratch 'n' sniff experiment (hope you didn't miss it), it is difficult to illustrate an article on smells satisfactorily. But as they make up a multi-zillion-dollar industry, it behoves us business writers to give smells due space.

First, do not call call them smells - they are fragrances. Please refer to the Fragrance Foundation, established in New York in 1949 by perfume companies "to develop educational programs about the importance and pleasures of fragrance for the American public".

But the real surprise is that these giant companies - including Elizabeth Arden and Chanel - seem quite paranoid about what they describe as the "tyranny of vision". They follow my dog's view, which is that we should be a bit more nasally centred. In the Middle East, they point out, marriages are sometimes cancelled because the bride smells wrong; in Japan body odour could in the past disqualify a man from military service; and, in the Amazon, tribes occasionally went to war because they hated each other's smells so much.

The Fragrance Foundation has links with the Olfactory Research Fund, whose job is to prove just how important smell is. Studies it has funded include "Cognitive Factors in Odour Perception", "The Startle-Probe Reflex as an Indicator of Affective Response to Odours", and "Congruent and Incongruent Odours: Their Effect on Behaviour in Public Places".

But hold, here are a couple of studies that could surely form the basis of the latest management blockbuster: "The Influence of Odour-Induced Affect on Creativity, Categorisation, and Decision-Making" and "The Effects of Odour Administration on Performance and Stress in Sustained Attention Tasks". Whiff your way to the Boardroom? Seven Pongs for Promotion? What do you reckon?

FURTHERMORE... a British company called Mastiff Electronics has developed Scentinel, a security system that recognises a person's body odour which is, it seems, a unique thing. And... this summer a South African company produced a special edition dressing for the UN, called Boutros Boutros Garlic.

Free money (honest)

I DIDN'T realise, until I saw the newspaper, The Jaclow, that I am a mug. It is packed to the gills with excellent tips for making and saving money, yet I have taken advantage of none of these. On the savings side, I could, for example, have cut my phone bills by 40 per cent, have bought a Pentium computer for pounds 75 or a 16-bedroom seafront hotel for just pounds 48,000.

And to pay for all this the opportunities are endless. "Mog's letters will turn your pounds 5 into a staggering pounds 7,000 per month for 21 months, and you hardly have to lift a finger." And, "Does the thought of making pounds 454,742.39 in the next six months appeal?"

I have no views on whether the paper will or will not make me a millionaire. But it does carry on a grand tradition - that the best way of making money is telling other people how to make money. Books on how to make a quick buck are everywhere in The Jaclow. "The single most important wealth rule: Master it and you cannot help but grow wealthy. Fail to learn it and your chances of becoming wealthy drop to one in 10m," one ad says.

And what do you have to do to keep those odds down? "This fast-selling and widely advertised money-making plan normally sells for pounds 24.95. Our giveaway price is just pounds 8."

But selling get-rich-quick books is just the start. Another generous soul offers to sell you cost-saving books; "bundles of 100 copies for pounds 20", that you can then sell on for "pounds 12.95 or even pounds 14.95".

Yet another layer of subtlety is added by people offering to tell you how to avoid being done. "You'll never need to lose money on buying any advertised 'Sure fire Business Opportunity' ever again," one ad says, before putting forward an unspecific proposition that will teach you "how to turn a few pounds into many thousands of pounds".

After all this complexity, I prefer this offer, which at least looks simple: "How to get Thousands of Eager customers to send you pounds 5. Complete business package which is easy to operate. This is a Real winner. Send pounds 5 only to..."

Call me a fool, but I have to say I am not totally convinced. I think I will settle for a professorship from The Trinity College and University. At only pounds 400, how can I resist?

I HAVE just returned from a sojourn in a Club Med, which had just about everything. Best of all was a currency system of unparalleled complexity. You bought books of red, green and yellow coupons worth respectively 1,280, 640 and 320 lire, to pay for drinks. A beer might, for example, cost 2R, 1J, 3V (the abbreviations are French, just in case it was getting too easy).

I have long maintained that British fortunes started to plummet on February 15 1971, when we abandoned pennies for that appallingly easy decimal system. Brains atrophied, and with them the economy. I suggest we establish a system based on the Club Med model: give kids coins that are worth, say, 12.8p and watch those IQs soar!