Archives - April 2012

Should you judge a book by it’s cover?

“The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s and 30’s in the United States is one of the most famous, or infamous, times in recent American history. The intention was to reduce the consumption of alcohol by eliminating businesses that manufactured, distributed and sold it. Considered by many as a failed social and political experiment, the era changed the way many Americans view alcoholic beverages, enhancing the realization that federal government control cannot always take the place of personal responsibility.” Source:

This description jumped into my mind recently, upon reading that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said that the government wants tobacco companies to have “no business” in Britain and will launch a consultation into stripping cigarette packets of all branding, according to an interview in the Times.

The similarity is stark.

There are many arguments, from many quarters, for and against the de-branding of cigarette packaging, that are well documented; perhaps, as designers, we should be flattered that branding is seen as being key to this whole debate?

This raises interesting issues about intellectual property rights for brand owners and design agencies alike. As John Noble, Director, British Brands Group has said “Branding also involves intellectual property rights that have been granted by the state and which companies have invested in over many decades to make extremely valuable so if the state effectively requisitions those intellectual property rights there is a question over the legitimacy of that and there is also a case for recompense and compensation.” This view is already playing out in Australia, where Philip Morris is suing the Australian government over a new law making plain packaging mandatory for cigarettes from December 2012.

Nobody can deny the amount of money that the NHS spends each year providing medical support to smokers; but where next? And is destroying brands the answer, with all its accompanying concerns regarding quality and counterfeiting? We all know and recognise that a brand is so much more than a “pretty pack” it is also a badge of authenticity and quality (amongst many other things). I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last to wonder if this approach will be mirrored in other categories . . . Alcohol? Confectionery?

The question that needs to be carefully considered is whether it is actually the de-branding of the packs – or a change in consumer attitudes – that will result in the behaviour changes that our government seeks.

However you define the issue at hand and whatever your stance on it – surely the best course of action is to make the right changes for the right people in the right way.

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2012…something to shout about!

Loving the Jubilee fever, tea parties at the ready…

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Prohibition is making a comeback …

…and igniting the creativity in all of us. Things we like this week – Noble – looks like it came straight out of Boardwalk Empire. Delightfully classic and a thing of nostalgic beauty – if this is what underground looks like I think I’ll start collecting.

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Hey Hey Good Looking…

As one of those suspect vegetarian types, who am I to praise the greatness of a burger you may well ask.

Well, having witnessed the recent calls for me to watch what I drink, to avoid the pleasures of chocolate (or a whole block of cheese should the mood take me), the savouring of a tobacco moment, a pink shrimp whilst watching as others strew the streets with litter, my sympathies now lie with those who want to be free to enjoy the pleasures of a bun wrapped; juice filled; meaty burger with toppings to tickle the taste buds.

It was whilst re-addressing my views and feeling sympathetic to the many of us who feel our own right to choose (hey were all grownups aren’t we?!) is being battered into submission that I came across this homage to the Holy Grail that is the good old fashioned burger. Either it’s all about the honesty and quality of the beef along with all the ingredients that go into it, or simply that it’s an all-round dirty pleasure. And what’s wrong with that? Surprisingly nothing I find myself saying.

Join me in appreciating all that is deemed pleasurably filthy – and if filthy is fine and handmade with pleasure in mind, well sign me up I say, or alternatively join the school of Stu, altogether now gggrrrrrr.

 Sonj (if she could kill it, then she’d happily skin it, cook it and eat it). P.S remember because I’m a grown up and a fully harassed member of the nanny state, I know that I don’t have to (and shouldn’t) eat it every day…

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