The government is contemplating ‘debranding’ cigarettes in order to make smoking less attractive. The cigarette companies would have to issue plain or some kind of unbranded packet. Will this help reduce the amount of smokers in the UK?
The chances are it won’t. Australia are the first country to lead the way with this policy. From December this year all packets will be olive green – which was considered the least attractive colour for smokers.
The potential design will have no logos and will be covered in health warnings and not very pleasant photos.
It’s ugly. Yes. Will it put off the smokers? One would hope so. It’s not the kind of design you want looking at you when you’re enjoying a night out.
Last year, London-based design firm came up with an “unbranded” solution.
It’s unlikely to be taken up by the tobacco companies though. Too much like a designer item. And I doubt the government will be thinking along these lines.
The problem with unbranding a cigarette packet is that aesthetically, if you remove all design, you’re left with a very neat looking product. It’s a clean, attractive, rectangle box. It feels good to touch. It’s smooth, it stands up on it’s own and features a clever top that opens and shuts quite neatly.
Aesthetically, the cigarette packet is pleasing to the eye. Take off the branding and it still looks good.
The BBC wrote an article on this back in 2009, showing two cigarette packs – one branded and one not. In spite of being called Hyper Puffs, the unbranded version looks too good.
We’re in an age where minimalist designs are leading the way. Look at the Apple products and the simplicity of their designs – the iPod and iPhone for instance. The chances of someone being put off from buying a plain cigarette packet are slim.
Perhaps the answer lies not with branding but with the packaging design. Get rid of the well designed rectangled box and replace it with an alternative. A plastic bag perhaps. Not only will this increase the chances of the cigarette being crushed before consumption, it’s pretty unattractive packaging.