The Department of Health is consulting on measures that could go as far as stripping cigarette packs of all their visual branding. Is such a public health move desirable and would it compromise the future of other branded goods?
Tobacco smoke is the second major cause ofdeath. If current smoking patterns continue, itwill cause some ten million deaths each yearby 2020. Cigarette branding has done a lot ofdamage. By removing it, cigarettes are branded forwhat they are: a commodity that kills rather thansomething cool. The branding/advertising industry hashelped to make smoking desirable and it has aresponsibility towards the public. The bottom line is:does this brand project cost lives? We must learn fromhaving branded cigarettes, so it doesn’t happen again.
Nicolas De Santis, Chief executive, Twelve Stars
Change that benefits public health is desirable, but let’s face facts – neither ad restrictions nor on-pack health warnings have had the impact the Government hoped for. Will this be different? An attempt to make cigarettes less desirable may only make them more so, creating a new generic ‘Cigarette’ brand – Minimalist design in a great packaging structure, anti-glam, iconic and slightly cultish. As for other branded goods, another sector shake-up is not improbable. My view? Never say never.
Dave Beard, Creative director, Brandhouse
To remove all branding you first have to understand what branding is – which the Department of Health probably doesn’t. Sure, you can take away the logos, the colours, the visual devices, the pack shape, the copy style. Then you could standardise the card, the foil and the Cellophane. They’d still be branded. The only way to have no branding for cigarettes is to take away the cigarettes. Whether that’s desirable or not is irrelevant because it isn’t going to happen. Branded goods have bigger things to worry about than nonsense such as this.
Jim Prior, Managing partner, The Partners
It’s a signal, and it will work for some. Perhaps it will reduce the fashionable appeal to new young smokers, but drugs aren’t branded and that hasn’t reduced their allure. The successes of ‘no brand’ Muji and No Logo Naomi Klein shows that we seek out the brands that we feel define us. Brands will continue to capitalise on our desires and insecurities with wit, imagination and doggedness regardless of restrictions, and we’ll continue to work in an industry that makes it all happen.
Keren House, Creative director, Aricot Vert