Smoking Gun in Nicotine Kanga Ruse

04Feb12

 “This kind of weasel marketing tactic will soon have no place here in Australia when all cigarettes will be in plain packaging from December”  Nicola Roxon Australian Attorney-General*

British American Tobacco has infuriated the Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon by branding some of its European Winfield packets with a kangaroo and the slogan: “An Australian favourite”.

As BAT prepares to launch a legal battle against the Australian federal government’s plain packaging laws, the Attorney-General said the packets were outrageous. Roxon, who got her rocks off in her previous post as Health Minister by banning branding from cigarette packets from December 2012, is using the kangaroo ruse as an example of why cigarette branding should be scrapped. If they needed a smoking gun this was it.

Coffee and Coughie?
The AG thought it was inappropriate to use Australia’s healthy lifestyle  as a marketing tool for a dangerous product. “Before we know it, we’ll see Sydney Ciggies or Melbourne Menthols,” she said. She could have added Canberra Coughies-as in “How about a coffee and coughie?” 

But it’s unfair to make her the butt of cheap humour, especially involving soggy puns, when the issues transcend health: “Frankly I think it’s pretty un-Australian…”. Perhaps Ms Roxon is  laying the foundation for a Federal Committee on Un-Australian Activities. Sort of a constitutional roll your own.

“They are trying to imply to the European market that this is something that Australia promotes, that this is something that Australians prefer, that this somehow is connected with our healthy lifestyle….Our life expectancy is the envy of the world.”
If you don’t count the indigenous population, though to be fair Prime Minister Gillard was seen tackling that problem just the other day.

But weasel marketing tactic? The fuming Roxon may regard the nicotine dispensing organisation as a BAT out of hell but she may live to roo her mixed metaphor. One jumpy anti-smoking advocate even dubbed the offending image as the “cancer kangaroo”.

To be fair BAT couldn’t use what Dame Edna might label that yucky Eucalyptus user, even for Menthol ciggies, because that cute image is overexposed elsewhere:  “Koala brand offers four popular natural, essentail oils. Use Oil of Eucalyptus for pain, lavender for the relaxation, tea trea for the skin or jasmine for spirit.”* With spelling skills like this they’ll be launching Cocoa Koala any time soon. And BAT obviously couldn’t use the outback camel-it’s already been done

The fact is that while the Government is set to force all cigarettes available in Australia to be sold in drab olive-brown packages from December 1-no ifs no buts- it has no legal control over the packaging of cigarettes overseas and the domestic legal situation is still hazy.

Ashes Series
In terms of the legal challenge punters, including Ricky Ponting, expect that Australia may do better in this legal Ashes Series than the last one.  In his playing days, after giving up smoking and then giving up giving up smoking, Shane Warne was occasionally reported as being spotted with a fag behind his back. This was typical media spin: all smoke and mirrors. Shane was simply burning the hairs off the palm of his spinning mitt so he could impart maximum torque to the red sphere.  Anyway since he stopped playing and teamed up with Liz Hurley he’s packed it in for good. Apparently smoking is bad for the complexion-see the Albanian warning messages below*.

Though some of us were slow learners we’ve known for years that there’s nothing glamorous about smoking.  One out of every two long-term smokers will die from a smoking-related illness. Tobacco Road* is a long and windy one and it’s a tough time for cigarette companies, who keep reminding us they are legally entitled to flog their product and are only trying to make a buck.

Meanwhile sales of unbranded-and untaxed-marijuana in its various manifestations appear to be doing quite nicely. Without wanting to sound too brash is there is a big question lurking behind the smokescreen?  Should we  make both products legal?  Or both illegal?

Footnote
Perhaps politicians, too, should come in plain wrappers. With party branding abolished, at election time you’d need especially large warning messages about voting being dangerous to your wealth.

*Blinks
Winnie roos ‘un-Australian’ – Roxon
www.koalabrands.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_packaging_warning_messages  Starting from Albania
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGuZY6NVXqU  Tobacco Road-The Nashville Teens-1964  Vid

#Lyall Lukey 4 February 2012
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/ My other (bit more serious) blog 

 

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