Pointing Fingers at Pantone 448C

We know colors can invoke different feelings or emotion, and therefore actions and behaviors. This is why fast food restaurants and their branding are typically bathed in red and yellow. This color combo can make us feel hungry and happy. Two cheeseburgers please! But what about the ugliest color in the world? What can it do?

Our friends downunder have taken this colorful concept and turned it on its head to see if they can use color to negatively impact consumer buying. The Australian government, with the expertise of research agency GfK Bluemoon, began their research with the idea that if they could identify the world’s ugliest color, they can utilize its utter lack of appeal to coat the packaging of tabaco products and hinder futher purchases.

It took some time, but after few months, researchers determined Pantone 448C was the unfortunate winner, describing it as “dirty” and “death.” Yikes! View the color chip below, if you dare. How do you feel about it? Does it just scream “nasty?”

Pantone 448C, otherwise known as opaque couché, wrapped individual packs of cigarettes and provided an unappealing background for other design elements, such as bleak type, bold health warnings and photos of tarred lungs (among other realities).

After the new packaging was released, data showed the stark packaging managed to move the needle by .55 percent, showing a slight reduction in smoking rates.

While many, including the fashion industry, aren’t convinced that Pantone 448C or any other color can truly be labeled as ugly, data shows some promise for its application to tabaco products. So much so that Ireland, the United Kingdom and France having adopted similar packaging designs.