200 gangrenous foot please mate

News that the UK could soon be following Australia’s lead and enforcing government-designed packaging for all tobacco products prompted us to take another look at the Australian design guidelines to see what we might be in for. It ain’t pretty…

News that the UK could soon be following Australia’s lead and enforcing government-designed packaging for all tobacco products prompted us to take another look at the Australian design guidelines to see what we might be in for. It ain’t pretty…

As we reported last year, all Australian tobacco packaging is clad in Lucida Sans and Pantone 448C – a drab green somewhere between khaki and olive but with none of the merits of either. The colour choice is backed up by research which eschewed light browns (associations of gold) and rich browns (too like chocolate) to arrive at the ultimate shade of despair.

It may come as a surprise though, to see just how much detail the Australian design guide goes into. It’s not just cigarette packets that are covered by this legislation, every aspect of the industry has been standardised, from the type on cigar bands to the size of loose leaf tobacco tins. Here, for example, are the specifications for cigarettes and cigars themselves:

And is it just us, or is there some mordant gallows humour at work here, picking a gangrenous foot as the most perfectly shaped illustration for a duty-free style cigarette carton multipack?



Cigar tubes carry a stark warning on one side (above), while here are the guidelines for other information


And cigar boxes and tins:





Plus loose tobacco:

While here are the specs for cigarettes:





We can’t help thinking that it’s a potentially worrying trend though, to combat social and health problems by making our environment uglier. What would happen if this sort of thinking was applied to other spheres of life? Could dangerous areas be ‘uglified’ to deter muggers from loitering? What if pubs were adorned with diseased livers? Isn’t there enough ugliness in the world, without designers purposely helping make it more so? At what level does the ‘ugliness’ of the rendering of the message here aid its effectiveness?

Part of the problem lies in the – literally – murky area that is being charted here. Governments are in the process of creating a historic new genre: anti-advertising. Whatever your views of the merits or otherwise of refusing legally trading companies the right to publicise their goods, the corollary that governments should then step in and attempt to negatively brand them is a curious one to say the least. Would not the more obvious route, of dispensing with packaging altogether and making nicotine available from clinics in the way that methodone is now, be a far more sensible compromise? As things stand, we are instead teetering on the brink of turning a public health tragedy into nothing more than a very ugly farce.

CR in print
The March issue of CR magazine celebrates 150 years of the London Underground. In it we introduce a new book by Mark Ovenden, which is the first study of all aspects of the tube’s design evolution; we ask Harry Beck authority, Ken Garland, what he makes of a new tube map concept by Mark Noad; we investigate the enduring appeal of Edward Johnston’s eponymous typeface; Michael Evamy reports on the design story of world-famous roundel; we look at the London Transport Museum’s new exhibition of 150 key posters from its archive; we explore the rich history of platform art, and also the Underground’s communications and advertising, past and present. Plus, we talk to London Transport Museum’s head of trading about TfL’s approach to brand licensing and merchandising. In Crit, Rick Poynor reviews Branding Terror, a book about terrorist logos, while Paul Belford looks at how a 1980 ad managed to do away with everything bar a product demo. Finally, Daniel Benneworth-Grey reflects on the merits on working home alone. Buy your copy here.

Please note, CR now has a limited presence on the newsstand at WH Smith high street stores (although it can still be found in WH Smith travel branches at train stations and airports). If you cannot find a copy of CR in your town, your WH Smith store or a local independent newsagent can order it for you. You can search for your nearest stockist here. Alternatively, call us on 020 7970 4878, or buy a copy direct from us. Based outside the UK? Simply call +44(0)207 970 4878 to find your nearest stockist. Better yet, subscribe to CR for a year here and save yourself almost 30% on the printed magazine.

CR for the iPad
Read in-depth features and analysis plus exclusive iPad-only content in the Creative Review iPad App. Longer, more in-depth features than we run on the blog, portfolios of great, full-screen images and hi-res video. If the blog is about news, comment and debate, the iPad is about inspiration, viewing and reading. As well as providing exclusive, iPad-only content, the app will also update with new content throughout each month.

More from CR

Rock on top of another rock

As one of the last works that artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss conceived of before Weiss’s death in April last year, Rock On Top of Another Rock is quite the tribute to the pair’s creative partnership

OFFSET 2013: more speakers announced

If you’re thinking of booking a ticket to attend Dublin’s OFFSET festival next month to hear speakers such as Bob Gill, Sarah Illenberger, Kate Moross, and Vaughan Oliver, then you’ve only got until midnight tomorrow (Friday) to take advantage of their ‘early bird’ ticket prices…

Open Studio Club’s Free Desk Here initiative

Free Desk Here is a new initiative by Open Studio Club that looks to encourage creative agencies to offer up a free desk space in their studio to a young creative (of their choosing) to come in and get on with their own work…

David Bowie Is the subject of this V&A book

Graphic design studio Barnbrook has designed the David Bowie Is book which accompanies the V&A’s exhibition of the same name, set to open later this month. We spoke to Barnbrook’s Jon Abbott about the project…

Graphic Designer

Fushi Wellbeing

Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency