Sunday, March 26, 2017

The death of cigarette advertising

Is the earthy tone Pantone 448 C really the death of cigarettes? Doesn't seem so bad to me – but that's the colour picked by Australians as the ugliest colour in the world. And that's the colour they, and now the UK, has chosen to replace all branding on cigarette packs, along with 60% of the pack surface consisting of health warnings and photos, and the logos reduced to a small standard generic sans serif typeface. Whether it has or will reduce cigarette smokers is another matter, but one immediate outcome is the confusion cashiers have of trying to find your brand of choice – the packs do all look exactly the same.

The 1970s and 80s was the most imaginative decade for cigarette advertising – and the start of the end. Advertisers weren't allowed to show cigarettes as evoking youth or coolness or even display a person smoking a cigarette on their adverts so companies such as Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges devised creative and surreal methods to evoke their brands.

Cigarette advertising was banned on TV in the UK in 1991 (also lamented; for example, the famous Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet campaign is often voted as one of the top TV adverts of all time). In the early noughties cigarette advertising was banned from sport (snooker and Formula One used to display prominent advertising at its events); then advertising was banned altogether. In 2007 smoking was banned from enclosed public spaces such as pubs and restaurants.

So now with the advertising and branding gone, as well as the ever-decreasing places to smoke, there is more incentive than ever for smokers to continue smoking quit, I mean, obviously. The new No Logo non-branding branding is presumably intended to stop people (in particular, youth) smoking, as is the banning of packs of ten and small packs of tobacco (though smokers trying to stop always found the small packs useful; if you're trying to stop the last thing you want to invest in is a pack of twenty).

Long before I started smoking, I always admired the advertising and branding of cigarettes (maybe because I was an art/graphic design student going through a surreal phase). I remember one seminar on subliminal advertising at art college where the tutor tried to convince us of the skull in the pattern of the camel on Camel cigarettes and the words 'horrible jew' sort of spelt out in the Marlboro logo if you turned it upside down and backwards ('orlb jew').

Anyway, I guess it's a good move to make cigarettes less attractive. But why stop at cigarettes? Hopefully enlightened future generations will see alcohol advertising banned. Then car advertising. And certain food advertising banned (meat, chocolate). I'd like to see (or not see, as the case may be) crap films, music and TV advertisements banned too.

Previously on Barnflakes
Australia first country to ban cigarette branding
Cigarettes vs. smartphones
Surreal Silk Cut cigarette ads
Silk Cut anagrams
Life branded 'a health and safety risk'

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