There is nothing like the mother of necessity to inspire creativity. Cigarette brand owners are amongst the most creative brand owners on this planet because they have to be. They will never roll over and die (like many of their customers!), they will simply fight each new hurdle imposed by Government legislation, because their very existence depends on them finding new and novel ways to retain their appeal.
In Australia they have slowly but surely had every possible medium for communicating their presence stripped away from them. When they lost the right to advertise in the main media, they simply shifted their focus to sport sponsorship. They then lost sport sponsorship and one felt almost the opportunity for product placement in movies….and then along came the mini-series Mad Men. What an amazing reminder that some social norms have had a huge shift over the past 4-5 decades.
Today in Australia we are about to see the introduction of plain cigarette packaging. No brand logo. No brand colours. No brand specific typefaces. The same plain pack for every cigarette brand, a simple brand name adorned with a graphic example of the health joys in-store for the regular smoker. A pack that is meant to not only remind the smoker of the perils of their habit, but also to make the pack look as socially unappealing as possible. An attempt to snuff out one of the last remaining brand building properties owned by the cigarette companies.
Unfortunately, what it is likely to do is drive them down the creative pathway once again. Surely, they will simply re-invent the ‘old’ cigarette case. Gift them to their loyal smokers. They will do everything possible to ensure that their customers get to look as cool as possible with the container that houses their little cancer sticks! Hence it is back to the future, but this time with cigarette branded cases. It will simply result in customers buying their preferred cigarette brand and then transferring the cigarettes from the plain packaging (with infected lungs or throat screaming at everyone!) into their swanky branded case, or even one with a tongue in cheek statement of how the customer views smoking.
The cigarette brands are masters at reinventing how they communicate their offer to the market, because they have to. Why not try imagining that the primary way that you market yourself to your target market has been removed from your arsenal – what would be your creative response. You may find a very potent alternative to your current paradigm.