How to Repulse People: Use the World's Ugliest Color

We spend our days trying to help you find products that are good for you. Meanwhile, the UK government has been working to repulse you from products that are bad from you. Something about this made me laugh a bit, and I felt, as slightly off-topic as it may be, this topic deserved its day in the sun over here.

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The UK government has spent a fair amount of effort to reduce smoking. Cartons already had blunt health warnings, like "smoking clogs your arteries" and were devoid of branding. Now, health warnings cover 60% of the package and the remaining surface goes to the world's ugliest color, opaque couché. See it over there? It's pretty ugly. But don't call it olive green, or you will upset the olive industry (no joke, that happened). And, the Pantone Color Institute defends the color, saying, "we consider all colours equally." Humorous tidbits aside, the research that led us here, a study by GfK, exposed 1,000 smokers to a variety of candidates for world's ugliest color, and participants frequently used words like "decay" and "death" to describe O.C. 

Karen Haller, a color psychologist, summarized the impact of the color by saying, “It’s used to deter you, to make you feel sick.”

I have my doubts on how much it can impact people with an addiction, but, hey, worth a try! To be fair to this effort, standardized packaging has been found to reduce smoking - overall and in the volume consumed by any one individual.


1. ‘World’s Ugliest Color’ Is Now On All UK Cigarette Packs. GOOD.

2. Pantone 448C. Pantone.

3. Health matters: tobacco standard packs. Public Health England.