Unthinkable? plain packets for everything | Editorial

Could the plain wrappers, which the government has mentioned it will introduce for cigarettes, be usefully extended, to other probably damaging products? Alcopop could be divested of its deceiving glamour, fatty meals could be labelled as just that, sugar could be generically dispensed. Whisky would just be a brown liquid in a bottle with no pictures of terriers or a chap striding along. Marmalade would just be a brown substance in a jar (right after all, when you buy oranges they often put them in a plain brown paper bag). Ice cream would no longer carry names reminding you of hefty handguns or novels by Mark Twain. Except, of course, in really tiny letters at the bottom of the pack. High heeled sneakers could be stripped of their vogue names and carry a warning about muscle strain and bunions to come. Quickly vehicles could have their badges pruned. The more we lengthen the list the sillier it gets. Yet we know how several designs for marijuana packets have been patented in the hope that it would be legalised: the magic wand of branding could then be waved over them to deliver huge profits to these far-sighted entrepreneurs. Brand names permit us to pick, but they also often cease us deciding on wisely. Perhaps the problem could be tackled more straight by basically attaching a label to every thing saying that branding should be taken with a pinch of salt. Naturally a label like that on an real packet of salt could cause confusion, so that one may possibly have to say in that situation that branding could be a snare and a delusion.

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