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Packaging – do scare tactics work?

The unveiling of the new cigarette packaging in Australia will be watched keenly in the UK and worldwide. Will the images have the desired long-term effect and reduce the 3m Aussies who smoke, put BAT and the like out of business or simply give rise to branded packet holders (the new iphone cases) and under-the-counter cigarette sales.

The move on cigarettes has been long coming and gone at the days of John Player sports sponsorship, Marlboro country ads and the iconic purple material campaigns on TV.

But the question is twofold, should cigarette boxes be targeted like this?

Maybe they should instead carry pictures of say missing people, like the US have adopted since the late 70’s on milk cartons, arguably cigarette packets probably have the potential for more readership in pubs and clubs, football stadiums, coffee shops etc than cartons of milk and could actually provide a ‘beneficial’ cause-related channel for worthy campaigns – I can’t think of any other consumable product, save clothing or phones, that are carried around and displayed so readily.

Secondly, smoking does kill. Fact. But should other brands be forced to follow suit; should chocolate show images of obese people, fizzy drinks images of blackened teeth.

Brand owners spend a great deal on focus groups and great design to increase product sales – are we entering a new age of visually connecting products to their ill-effects?