For years, drugs and alcohol advertising has been the source of great controversy. There is no doubt that both drugs and alcohol can have negative effects on people and teens in particular. However, whether advertising is contributing to the use of alcohol and tobacco in a harmful matter is perhaps the most controversial part of the discussion. San Diego package design company and branding consultant, Lien Design, is well aware of the possible consequences of alcohol and tobacco design and marketing and can share some findings with you.
It seems that in both alcohol and cigarette branding, for every negative argument against the advertising, there is one that counters it. For instance, as far as alcohol goes, The International Center for Alcohol Policy reported to a World Health Organization in 2003 that there is no compelling evidence linking the advertising of alcohol between drinking patterns and rates of abuse among young people. However, another study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that advertising bans could result in reductions in consumption.
Smirnoff Ice is a very popular brand design that is now the number one brand of vodka in the world. The company came under heat by running print ads that advertised alcopops which many thought defined the product as a ‘gateway beverage’ promoting their drinks as fun, sexy, cool and less risky to consume. Studies were conducted as to the advertising of this brand, but these were largely inconclusive as well. While one side shows the product as unethical, the flipside shows logical reasons why the report has no solid results.
Cigarettes are perhaps even more controversial than alcohol as many believe there are more harmful effects in smoking. A four year battle ensued between the public and tobacco companies in the late 90’s which culminated in the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement. The Agreement mandated that tobacco companies pay the government $206 billion over a 25 year period and perform all other actions enacted by the Agreement. Many of the provisions caused companies to take a more ethical approach towards marketing, especially in consideration of the youth.
One company that was exemplary in its adherence to the Master Tobacco Settlement agreement was the Philip Morris company. This company had previously launched the famed Marlboro man print ad. After the Agreement was passed, Philip Morris not only went on to make on-time payments to the government, they also set a precedent to become a more responsible company, devoting money to youth prevention campaigns, products that would reduce the risks of smoking and a Quit Assist program for adults looking to quit.
So it seems that the argument of whether cigarette and alcohol branding and advertising is ethical or not is one that goes back and forth. However, the key is finding a package design company that knows what they are doing so that marketing presents the brands as being aware of possible risks and promoting safe use that does not blatantly appeal to youth. A good branding company like Lien Design is aware of some of the pitfalls cigarette and alcohol advertising might fall into. This helpful knowledge is all part of why they are the leaders in the packaging design and branding industry and California’s go-to when it comes to promoting your brand.