It was the summer before I turned 18 that I tried a cigarette for the first time. Looking back on my life it is one of those things I truly regret. Not one of those stupid things you do when you are young that you look back on and feel that through folly you have somehow grown. That single cigarette was the catalyst to what would become a 9 year long addiction and has certainly helped to form my perspective on this weeks post.
The form of an object is not always iconic to a single brand but may be iconic to a type of product. The form of a package can elude to, or tell you what is contained inside while not being unique to the brand. The cigarette pack is an example of one of these packages. Virtually every single brand of cigarettes sold in the United States uses the same form, the same dieline to be more specific.
In removing the artwork from a pack of cigarettes you remove the entirety of the brand. This plain folding carton could be Camels, Marlboros, Newports, American Spirits, there is absolutely no way to distinguish. So what is it that draws us to a particular brand of cigarettes?
In a previous Paint It Black article I wrote about Skippy Peanut butter and the power of brand familiarity and how brand trust can be passed down from parents to children. This seems like a good place to start with cigarettes as well. My first experience with cigarettes was Mablboro Lights, the cigarettes my friend was smoking when he first offered me a cigarette. At this point I had never thought about the package, no single brand had any sort of aesthetic to the packaging or the branding that made me desire it over another. I smoked what my friend smoked because ,well, why would he smoke anything but the best? They all cost about the same. They all look the same.