Recently the Australian government announced its new rules for making cigarette packaging as unattractive as possible.
Instead of allowing distinctive corporate logos, the packages must use a generic type font called Lucida Sans. They must show photos of the diseases caused by smoking. And every package must be printed in Pantone 448C.
The government hired a research firm to come up with the most unappealing color possible. The company conducted studies with nearly 1000 people to find out what color suggests low quality and lack of appeal. The research firm then recommended a drab greenish-brown hue that is far away from the bold reds and blues that have been used traditionally in cigarette packaging.
Is Pantone 448C truly the most unappealing color? This brings us to a question artists continually face: Is there such a thing as a disgusting color, or is it all a matter of context? Are greenish-brown colors the kiss of death in painting?
I wondered if any great artists used this color successfully.
Thomas Dewing often used a greenish palette. In "Lady in White," there is no red. The background is slightly gradated. The dress is painted with pale blues and yellows, and the seat cushion tends toward yellow green.
Van Dyck's portrait of Horace Walpole uses large areas resembling Pantone 448C for the background and the book, with adjacent red-browns at close to the same value.
What do you think? Were any of them successful? What is your personal reaction to 448C? Please share your reaction in the poll at left and thoughts in the comments.
Addendum--Here are the poll results to the question: "What is your reaction to Pantone 448C?":
20% Mild dislike,
7% No reaction,
18% I like it,
27% I love it,
39% It all depends.
Bloomberg report on new packaging and how it was decided upon.
Previously on GurneyJourney: The Mud Debate