Thursday 15 March 2012

To absurdity and beyond

Back in 2002, when Parliament passed a law to ban all forms of tobacco advertising and sponsorship, anti-smoking groups applauded the "comprehensive" legislation that took away the industry's last marketing opportunities.

Then there was the campaign against retail displays. Point-of-sale was, they said, the industry's last remaining means of marketing their products.

Then there was the, er, colour of Formula One cars—the industry's supposed secret weapon.

Then there was plain packaging, the new final frontier.

Is there anywhere left to go from here? Can the definition of "marketing" be stretched any more thinly? Can there be any more barrels left to scrape?

I mean, what are they going to claim next—that the shape of cigarettes is a form of marketing!?!

Ha, ha, ha!


Effects of stick design features on perceptions of characteristics of cigarettes

Ron Borland, Steven Savvas

Objective To examine the extent (if any) that cigarette stick dimension, tipping paper design and other decorative design/branding have on Australian smokers' perceptions of those cigarettes.

Methods An internet survey of 160 young Australian adult ever-smokers who were shown computer images of three sets of cigarette sticks—five sticks of different lengths and diameters (set A), five sticks with different tipping paper design (set B) and four sticks of different decorative design (set C). Branding was a between-subjects randomised condition for set C. For each set, respondents ranked sticks on most and least attractive, highest and lowest quality and strongest and weakest taste.

Results Cigarette sticks were perceived as different on attractiveness, quality and strength of taste. Standard stick length/diameter was perceived as the most attractive and highest quality stick, with men more inclined to rate a slim stick as less attractive. A stick with a cork-patterned tipping paper and a gold band was seen as most attractive, of highest quality and strongest in taste compared to other tipping designs. Branded sticks were seen as more attractive, higher in quality and stronger tasting than non-branded designs, regardless of brand, although the effects were stronger for a prestige compared with a budget brand.

Conclusions Characteristics of the cigarette stick affect smokers' perceptions of the attributes of those cigarettes and thus are a potential means by which product differentiation can occur. A comprehensive policy to eliminate promotional aspects of cigarette design and packaging needs to include rules about stick design.

From the Tobacco Control journal, of course, whose slogan should be "Jumping sharks since 1992". Note the use of the same lazy and pointless methodology as used in the plain packaging and graphic warning studies. Note also that it is the super-nanny state of Australia "leading the way" again here. I sense that a new multi-million dollar avenue of policy-driven research has been opened up to the sociology, mechanical engineering, English and management PhDs tobacco control scientists of the world.


Unknown said...

Shocking. Smokers think the cigarettes they are used to look better than cigarettes they're not used to, and that the presence of a brand implies better quality than unbranded. Pretty much applies to everything on the consumer market - if you saw a car with Volkswagon next to a car with no brand at all, "but we promise it's just as good!", i know i'd go for the one with a brand. Even low-quality brands give some indication of quality control.

Anonymous said...

The trouble is, this is the campaigners' lives. Every victory requires a new challenge to be found, otherwise what would they do? They might have to get a productive job.

Curmudgeon said...

The next step, of course, will be to eliminate all branding and just have each type of cigarette denoted by a random 4-digit number.

Oops, wait 5 years and that will be a serious suggestion...

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the Australian government and the Australian anti-smokers have extended the boundaries of the former prison colony to the entire coast-line. All Australians are now living in a prison, they just don't realise it yet.

Anonymous said...

Id love it if my cigs had harley-davidson all over them up the paper to a fine emblazoned filter with the harley logo! Now if marlboro would just start going after those sponsorships...a new marketing tool from within the package.


Anonymous said...

Formula One hasn't forgotten the insults either.

The history of anti-tobacco legislation
MAY 5, 2005

"The first tobacco advertising bans were, ironically, in Italy. Law No.165 of April 10 1962 banned advertising of tobacco products, stating that: "Advertising of any tobacco product, whether domestic of foreign, is forbidden".

Fines for non-compliance were low and the law was largely ignored. Law No.52 in February 22 1983 raised the sanction but this had little effect. The teams carrying tobacco sponsorship would receive a visit each day from the local police. They would pay the fine and get a receipt."


Anonymous said...

They were also where I first discovered that we had ratified the FCTC.

Britain ratifies anti-tobacco treaty
DECEMBER 16, 2004

"The announcement was hidden away in a statement about a reduction in the number of smokers in the UK."

C.A.G.E. said...

So what exactly do their studies for plain packaging and now cigarette design prove except that they're designed to attack the big tobacco companies and not to lower smoking prevalence in the least?

Given a choice people might of course be tempted to choose the more attractive product (that's what branding is all about) and that applies to every product out there not just tobacco. But given no choice by making every product uniform does not prove that people will not use the only choice they have. If every brand for any product out there was ''no name'', would people stop consuming any and every product out there? Of course not.


Anonymous said...

It was clear already in Stephen Williams's statement on his blog that the REAL OBJECTIVE of plain packaging is to gain control of the size of cigarettes (via the size of the packet). Chapman has also said it. This 'research' is the first salvo in reducing the size of cigarettes (while maintaining the price and tax of course).

Michael J. McFadden said...

Curmudgeon wrote, "The next step, of course, will be to eliminate all branding and just have each type of cigarette denoted by a random 4-digit number.

Oops, wait 5 years and that will be a serious suggestion..."

Back in Feb 2009 I sent the following to the Guardian as part of a letter to the editor about plain packaging. Never got printed so I figured I'd share it here! :)


Think of the many types of beer that are available, and the scurrilous ethics of alcohol pushers who advertise their products to children through such things as sports sponsorships and advertising! With 26 letters in the alphabet there are 17,576 three letter combinations available that could be assigned to plain white-labeled beers.

People would still be free to drink their brand of choice, through a government listing identifying Brand TXQ as being Heineken etc, but "the children" would no longer be subjected to colorful labels and enticements to drink! Drinking will become a thing of the past as those seeking healthy pub fare will do so in comfort while the alkies simply step outside for a few quick gulps of XQZ or ECG beer or wine after their meal before rejoining the normal folks back inside.

White label code branding for society's undesirable habits is the wave of the future! Don't be left behind!



Anonymous said...

Mike maybe we should all drink to the collapse of the EU,UNITED NATIONS and the Federal government very soon...........Freedom will be the big winner!