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Simply Scary


Branding is important. If you’re going to sell something, whether it be a product or a service, the establishment of a brand identity is key. Endless research, testing and evaluation goes into the longevity of a good brand but what do you if all of the sudden, you’re not allowed to brand the way that has made you a success?


Simple. You redo it overnight.


In June 2009, the U.S. Senate worked with the FDA to regulate the way that big tobacco packages their products. The hubbub was mostly about tobacco’s use of certain words that could be misconstrued by consumers as suggesting that one particular type of cigarette may actually have healthful benefits. The types of words in question were “mild,” “light,” “low tar,” and things of that nature. The FDA agreed with the Senate, and gave big tobacco until June 2010 to revamp the way they brand their products.


Although still months away, many tobacco companies have already solidified their new packaging and will begin rolling out the new looks to stores soon. Never being the type to miss an opportunity, big tobacco (across the board) completely revamped their look. Since wording became the biggest issue with the FDA, big tobacco – being the sly dogs that they are, decided to change the game entirely.


No longer will wording play a role for cigarette branding but rather, color. Check out some examples of new cigarette packaging as compared to their look a few years prior:



These are the exact same products. However, in lieu of using words like “mild,” or “light,” most companies have opted to simplify the product and assign each a color. For example, Salem switched from “Lights,” to “Gold Box,” and from “Ultra Lights,” to Silver Box.”


Pall Mall switched from “Lights,” to simply “Blue,” and from “Full Flavor,” to “Red.”


It’s all the same stuff as before, except now users wont associate the product with a word but rather, a color. The frightening part about the switch is that it simplifies the process of familiarizing the brand identity to a potential user. No longer will an aspiring smoker have to read the box and consider what “low tar” could possibly mean. Now, they can just look at that Plexiglass case of cancer and point out which pretty color catches their eye.


In-store cigarette cases will soon be just as colorful and intriguing as point-of-purchase candy displays and we all know who those candy displays market to…


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