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Thursday, February 16, 2012
We’ve said it time and time again; you have less than three seconds to capture the attention of a potential consumer, so use your time wisely. Packaging design and branding are the bread and butter behind creating a profitable product. So what’s to come of the tobacco industry’s flair?
The plain packaging initiative has one goal, to lower the number of tobacco-related deaths throughout the country. Apparently the Australian government believes that this can be done by grossing people out. Or in more proper terms; they aim to use unattractive packaging to dissuade people (particularly youngsters) from turning to cigarettes as a form of personal or stylistic expression.
Interestingly, the proposed plain packages are anything but plain. The connotation of the word “plain” brings to mind a sterile and clean looking package. I may be alone on this, but I don’t think olive green (research revealed this to be the most repelling color) boxes and large graphic health warnings quite fit the plain bill. “Uniform” may be the more appropriate word, allotting only two lines of content on the front, to describe the brand and variety of cigarette packaged, displayed in a predetermined font style and size. Oh Australia, if only it were that simple.
How it could work
If someone has willingly polluted their own lungs for the last twenty years I’m not sure a packaging change-up will necessarily bring about the change Australia is after. The new look is only the first step in breaking down the product’s communication with consumers. The initiative’s ability to look beyond scare tactics (close-up images of diseased eyes, mouths and lungs) and focus on diminishing the quality of the tobacco products as well as the characteristics of users is where it’s potential for change can be found.
The plain packaging model isn’t only meant to disgust the eyes and appeal to the heart; it’s also equipped to play mind games. Such basic packaging design may lead consumers to assume that the cigarettes inside are of a lower quality, that the taste might be lackluster and worst of all that smoking this brand might be detrimental to their worldly status (considering what class of people would smoke plain packaged cigarettes), making smoking socially distasteful.
The fiery tobacco battle ensues
Is it right for design power to be taken from these cigarette giants? They sure don’t think so. The Australian tobacco companies’ arguments against plain packaging are based on international trademark and intellectual property law infringements, not to mention ranting about the potential of illicit trading (plain packaging will make products easy to counterfeit). The government defends their decision based on the death toll associated with tobacco (responsible for an estimated 15,000 deaths a year). They say cigarettes are no longer considered a normal product and that special status introduces the need for government involvement. Things don’t look too hot for the tobacco guys and though they maintain a strong face, chances are plain packaging is going to make them hurt in ways they’ve never experienced before.
Plain packaging is making large enough waves in Australia that the aftershock could impact decisions made in Canada and the U.K. as well. Then who knows where. It may be time to prepare your goodbye to the iconic camel and find a new role model for all the boys who grew up dreaming of one day becoming a Marlboro man. Until then, don't waste valuable shelf space with an unsightly product. CPS Design now offers custom cardboard packaging design services!
Do you support or oppose plain packaging? Tell us why in the comments.
I’m a writer at heart, who got swept up in an intriguing industry. I learned the ropes of CPS products along with budding packagers through our customer support call center. Then I gained insight into why people love to do business with us while working with clients in Sales Support. Now, I get to encapsulate my daily packaging discoveries in writing and share them with you. Life is good.
CPS Blog Writer
I grew up in the packaging industry working for Container & Packaging Supply. I've been a bottle printer, order picker, delivery driver, graphic artist, and warehouse manager, all before I graduated from college! Following graduation I worked as the Art Director of a radio conglomerate in a top 25 market. I came back to what I love.
Executive Vice President
Like every young boy, I wanted to sell bottles when I grew up. The fulfillment of this life-long dream was met in 2004 when I came to CPS. Aside from the glitz and the glamour that naturally accompanies containers, I have enjoyed many aspects of the business. I have dabbled in warehouse, customer support, sales, marketing, and HR. Basically, I am delightful and dreamy. Oh! I forgot to mention - I have a ton of friends and admirers. Yet, it is in my deep-seeded humility where I really shine.
Executive Vice President