Plain packaging comes early for one tobacco giant

As we saw a few months back, the Australian government passed a world first in legislation on the enforcement of plain, generic packaging for tobacco products. I was interested to see how the tobacco giants would attempt to overcome this or whether they would just lie down in defeat. No one really expected the latter, but for me I struggled to see how they would be able to do anything that would make an impact – well what could they do when their packaging was going to be determined for them?

Our Director of Brand Strategy, Michael Hughes predicted late last year in his article with B&T that this legislation would just be another challenge for the tobacco giants, but one that “may just inspire a more creative approach to delivering the brand”. You can read the full article here.

Imperial Tobacco who produces Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes is the first to attempt any sort of backlash. They have released their latest packaging, a month or so before the plain packaging is to be enforced in December. The new packaging however gives us a slight glimpse of what the new packaging will be like, with the old packaging being torn away to reveal the new. The company states the reason for the new look is “soon no one will see Peter Stuyvesant on the outside but we don’t care. We’re going plain early, because we know Peter Stuyvesant will continue to live on inside…It is also important to inform our adult consumers that the product itself will remain unchanged.”

It is a clever attempt to associate the current brand elements that Peter Stuyvesant owns with the plain packs that the brand will be enforced to roll out. When the brandmark is well and truly gone in a months time, will consumers still link it with the new plain packs because of this last attempt? Only time will tell.

Other tobacco companies are falling into line with some already introducing the new plain packs as determined by the government with the same font, same finish, same Pantone 448 colour with large health warnings covering the majority of the pack. Although this is causing confusion for traders who in the past were able to determine the brands by their colour, they don’t believe the new legislation will make much difference. Lets hope they’re wrong.

Sandy Muir 
Director of Brand Projects

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1 Comment

  1. Truly interesting to watch all the cigarette companies brand touch points being eroded away by numerous legislation over the years, no advertising, no sponsorship and now no pack design. Will be watching closely to see how they attempt to impart some sort of brand personality into their product. Can’t wait to see the creative solutions evolve from these restrictions.

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