In 2012, the Australian government hired researchers to find the world’s most unappealing color to put on tobacco products to discourage people from smoking. Described as “death,” “dirty,” and “tar,” the color is the Pantone hue 448C, or opaque couché. See it below.
Yes, it’s ugly. But the brownish-green color is serving an important mission! The research agency GfK was tasked with identifying this color, which was a very different task than most of their work. They were used to making products more appealing, not unappealing. The research took three months, seven studies, and surveyed over 1,000 smokers, but eventually they found a color no one had anything nice to say about.
The demand for the ugliest color came with Australia’s law that cigarettes could only be sold in plain packaging (meaning no brand logos or promotional text). Brand names have to be small and graphic images of tobacco’s effect on health and warnings are prominent.
And it worked! Data revealed that smoking rates dropped by .55 percent (the equivalent of 108,000 people) from December 2012 to September 2015.
Now, other governments are adopting the plain packaging method and Pantone 448C, as well. The U.K., Ireland, and France have also adopted similar plain packaging laws and the “drab dark brown” color, too.