Plain and simple

The best pieces of marketing make a case so well, it feels like there can be no further argument.

Like this piece for Cancer Research UK making the case for plain packaging for cigarettes.

Case closed.

(Hat-tip: TP)

Tim Burrowes


  1. insilence
    28 May 12
    10:11 am

  2. As you say ‘Case Closed’

    Can’t wait for the tobacco companies to lose their case against the government.

  3. les wood
    28 May 12
    10:25 am

  4. wonderful

  5. Indounik
    28 May 12
    10:26 am

  6. Take a bow clever ad company working for Cancer Research UK. I don’t think I’ve seen something as effective since the Grim Reaper.

  7. Brendan
    28 May 12
    10:29 am

  8. This is bullsh!t, I don’t smoke, I don’t like people smoking, but give a bunch of middle-upperclass kids some packages and they will say that!! It’s the lower class who has trouble with smoking. Their parents smoke and it’s so normal to them. Changing the outside isnt what’s going to change whats inside… Ever heard of the saying lipstick on a pig??? It’s just a big fat waste of time and money. There are fundamental flaws with our society regarding cigarets. And making the pack they come in a simple colour will not fix those problems.

  9. B
    28 May 12
    11:02 am

  10. Just compelling.

  11. PA
    28 May 12
    12:07 pm

  12. It’s clever. Perhaps it appeals to us as middle-upper class individuals, but smoking isn’t simply limited to the ‘lower class’. It’s prolific and if this change in packaging, and supporting ad campaign, can make a difference by reducing some of that dependancy, then it’s a good thing.

  13. Ben
    28 May 12
    1:48 pm

  14. Brilliant

  15. T
    28 May 12
    1:51 pm

  16. For this ad to work, you need to first be displaying the cigarettes to kids, which is already unlawful in the only Plain Pack jurisditcion.

    Additionally, is no one going to point out that Cancer UK gave cigarettes to kids in order to make an ad?

    As Nick Naylor says, the anti-smoking lobby want cancer boy to die.

  17. AdGrunt
    28 May 12
    3:24 pm

  18. Adam Ferrier tweeted this some time ago.

    It would have been interesting to do the same exercise with pharmacist-only medicine packaging and the colourful pills. In fact you could put anything in front of them.

    When asked to say something about anything, people will say something. Even kids. In fact, especially kids. This is a known flaw of focus groups.

    Plain packaging is simply fucking about, avoiding prohibiting it.

    But then prohibition doesn’t work terribly well, either.

    Price the stuff to the wazoo and tell people it’ll kill you is about as good as it’ll get.
    Informed choice means that some will still make a poor choice.

    That’s the price for personal liberty I’m afraid – some will accept the risk of killing themselves in the pursuit of their happiness.

  19. Paul
    28 May 12
    4:26 pm

  20. Here in Australia the tobacco companies launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to fight plain packaging.

    Proof positive that it’s a VERY effective tactic.

  21. Tony
    28 May 12
    4:57 pm

  22. After seeing this, how would you sleep at night arguing against plain packaging? Bloody good job AMV BBDO.

  23. Sara B
    28 May 12
    9:10 pm

  24. You guys have not obviously read the many complaints about this advert and the activities of a once respected research charity – in the UK. … showing cigarette packets to kids. Really?

    Had you shown kids packets of condoms they would have said same thing – would the hysterical cry be “condom manufacturers target kids” – of course not.. Classist claptrap.

  25. fibbest
    29 May 12
    3:01 pm

  26. Condoms do not kill people @Sara B. The more colourful the better if it got peeps to use condoms rather than not…

  27. Ronnie
    29 May 12
    3:29 pm

  28. To the naysayers,

    As you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you either work directly for a marketing company or work for a company that services them. So, with your rationale that the packaging has no effect, could you please explain why you either spend or charge (depending on you aforementioned role) large amounts of money designing it?

    Thank you, and good night.

  29. AdGrunt
    29 May 12
    11:10 pm

  30. Ronnie,

    As you said something so ridiculous about packaging, I assume you don’t work in marketing or brand design.

    If your assertions had merit, then illicit drugs would have no appeal, as they have no packaging whatsoever.

    Yet they do. One for you to ponder tonight.

    Sleep tight.

  31. Ronnie
    30 May 12
    2:57 pm

  32. Adgrunt,
    I noticed that you failed to address the question I posed.

    However, if you want to compare the marketing strategies of illicit drugs with legally marketed products, so be it. Once again, I’ll use your rationale.

    I can’t exactly recall ever seeing an ad selling the virtues of heroin, or a bus-side telling you where you can get a good deal on some. Therefore, using your own logic, advertising in these mediums must be an entire waste of time. Hmmm.

  33. AdGrunt
    30 May 12
    5:59 pm

  34. Ronnie,

    I didn’t answer your question as the fallacy you propose is what is comprehended in Marketing – broadly in lesson 1 or 2. That’s what marked you out as having little grasp of the overall concepts of marketing, influence, etc.

    You’re also not very good at parsing “rationales” or logic – I was suggesting that perhaps advertising isn’t some amazing mesmer machine. That there is some rational and emotional thought and filtering process occurring in the viewer. Otherwise every anti-smoking ad that has run for 30 years would have stopped smoking in its tracks.

    Do you mindlessly go out and buy nappies because you’ve seen an ad for them?

    So, some homework for you.

    Read this lot (it’s a link to Mumbrella) – it should cover most questions.

    Do come back and ask any questions it doesn’t answer. Which should be very few.

    Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

  35. paul the freelance writer
    31 May 12
    3:42 pm

  36. Yeah, I started smoking at age ten because I loved my father’s Viscount pack design. It was all red and gold with a seductive burred silver paper liner that you pulled out to see the fags.

    No, I fucking didn’t. And what’s more, in those days I actually bought his cigarettes for him. He’d give me fifty cents to go around the shop and get him a packet of Viscount and a box of matches while he listened to the races on 3UZ in his workshop. Why? Because it wasn’t illegal for one, and for two he didn’t jump to the stupid conclusion that just because I’d seen/handled a box of cigarettes I’d immediately want to start smoking the things.

    The premise of the commercial is completely wrong. Children take up smoking because their peers do it, or their parents disapprove, or they are just contrary little bastards. Plain packaging won’t stop any of that and neither will anti-smoking lobby commercials with cute imagery and no logic.

  37. AdGrunt
    31 May 12
    6:36 pm

  38. BTW – This seems a more worthwhile effort than plain packaging.

  39. Jörn
    1 Jun 12
    4:34 pm

  40. What a result! Produced, directed and heavily edited (not suggesting scripted) footage endorsing that packaging and branding works! Hope every packaging and branding agency includes this video in their value proposition.

    One question before I go… Why do so many take illicit drugs? Do they also come with a royal crest?

  41. Ronnie
    4 Jun 12
    9:45 am

  42. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that packaging design is the sole influence in any purchase decision, but whether you like to acknowledge it or not, it is one of the influencers.

  43. AdGrunt
    4 Jun 12
    12:09 pm

  44. Ronnie,

    You didn’t read that thread, did you.

    In order for it to influence you, you’d need an established need or desire in the first place. Brand is about a choice.

    Do you really believe people start smoking because they see a pretty packet?

    The evidence from Canada cited by even the Cancer Council suggested that price and education are the strongest influences. Or just ban it.

    Dont’ be lulled by the belief that doing anything, is doing something. Sometimes it’s just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

  45. Peter
    12 Jun 12
    3:29 pm

  46. Any of this ‘evidence’ to ban fancy packaging for filthy tobacco is worthwhile.
    The twits who oppose attempts to get rid of tobacco are just that — twits.
    Surely they must be aware of the dishonest and devious tactics of big toboacco?? or are they just showing how they too have been conned?