Alzheimer’s and memory loss caused by dementia affect 35.6 million people worldwide. “Our sense of smell is one of our most visceral instincts. It has an instant and powerful connection to memories, especially emotional ones,” said Juhi Kalia, JWT Singapore ECD. “We thought, ‘What if we can use smell to bring evoke memories and emotions in these patients?”
JWT worked with Givaudan, the fragrance industry leader and partner to prestige, personal & home care brands worldwide, to create bespoke ‘Smell a Memory” kits. The kits are personalized and custom-created for individual patients based on each patient’s family history, ethnicity, age and personal stories. Givaudan’s perfumers, in consultation with therapists and rehabilitation experts, tailor-made and bottled unique smells such as “Bedtime Stories”, “Mom’s Cooking”, “Prayer”, “School Days” and more to provoke engagement through experiential smells. The scents used ingredients relevant to Singapore, including herbs and spices from everyday Singaporean dishes, Hainanese coffee, incense used in local temples and other scents that reminded people of school, holidays and work life.
“We wanted the smells in the kits to have a narrative quality. The idea was to evoke emotional memories not just factual ones. Scents that could open the floodgates to a story or a certain time in their lives and all the feelings associated with that memory,” says Kalia.
Working with medical staff at Soo’s Nursing Home and another care facility in Singapore, the team tested the power of scent in therapy sessions. The Smell a Memory kits proved to be an incredibly powerful tool, sparking memories in some patients, and stimulating strong emotions in others. While regular aromas have been used to uplift moods, this is perhaps the first time complex fragrance have been created to evoke emotional memories.
“One of the key goals of therapy for Dementia patients is to draw them out and help them re-engage with the world and with loved ones. Over time, these patients become withdrawn and lose interest in food, activities and the people around them. A tool like this, that can awaken their senses and emotions, is critical to their emotional and physical health,” said Andrew Soo, Manager from Soo’s Nursing home.
A number of the patients, who are often listless, withdrawn and uncommunicative, became excited and lively after smelling the kits, engaging in animated conversations with family members and therapists. That, in turn, created an equally emotional experience for family members.
“I believe it will help in her recovery of a certain part of her memory of us,” said Mavis Han, the daughter of 85-year-old Han Yoke Kin ,who took part in the program. “I don’t want her to forget us.”
The Singapore project was so successful that Givaudan now plans to extend the programme to other regions, as part of their sustainability program.
JWT and Givaudan Singapore are also in the process of organizing further trails at two of Singapore’s largest hospitals.
“We are really breaking new ground here,” said David Boyd, Global Fragrance Director, Givaudan. “This is a practical, hands-on, usable tool. And the response has just been outstanding.”
More about JWT
JWT is the world’s best-known marketing communications brand. Headquartered in New York, JWT is a true global network with more than 200 offices in over 90 countries employing nearly 10,000 marketing professionals. JWT consistently ranks among the top agency networks in the world and continues a dominant presence in the industry by staying on the leading edge - from producing the first-ever TV commercial in 1939 to today, developing award-winning branded content. JWT embraces a WORLDMADE philosophy, making things inspired by the world through blending technological innovation with international imagination. JWT has forged deep relationships with clients including Bayer, Bloomberg, Brand USA, Diageo, Ford, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft, Macy’s, Mondelez, Nestlé, Nokia, Rolex, Royal Caribbean, Schick, Shell, Unilever, Vodafone, Vonage and many others. JWT’s parent company is WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY). For more information, please visit www.jwt.com and follow us @JWT_Worldwide.
JWT opened its first offices in Asia Pacific in 1929, and today has more than 3,000 employees spread across 18 countries in the region.
As the leading company in the fragrance and flavour industry, Givaudan develops unique and innovative fragrance and flavour creations for customers all around the world. Industry leadership position is underpinned by a sales and marketing presence in all major markets. Givaudan’s perfumery team is the largest in the industry and the company’s talents extend across three business areas: Fine Fragrances, Consumer Products and Fragrance Ingredients
Cris PrystayAsia Pacific Director of Corporate Communications+65 9889-8824+65 email@example.com