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The Starbucks-isation of Tobacco

January 26, 2011 1 comment

Brand minimalism, behavioural economics and government regulations converge.

Earlier this month, Zeitgeist reported briefly on the impending change to the Starbucks logo. From all the editorial ink spilled in newspapers and online, around the world, you’d have thought something momentous had happened (involving Roger Federer). In said article, we linked to a page that discussed and illustrated concept designs of minimalism versus maximalism, for various well-known brands.

What if, however, instead of a client whim, the government stipulated that your product’s packaging had to be devoid of any colourful illustrations or wry epigrams? For the world of tobacco, the abstract implication is a very real possibility. We know from behavioural economics 101 that even the mention or depiction of a cigarette – no matter the context – will make the UK’s 10m smokers inevitably think “Oh, that’s right, I need a cigarette. Now.” So there’s a certain art to making those death sticks attractive, even when stripped down to its barest of bare essentials. From the creative people at design agency Build. Incidentally, The Economist this week features an article on suggestive mediums for tobacco.