The dichotomy of design

Designers provide a critical agent for change within contemporary society evident within an understanding about the role of the user in an effective design solution as well as the role of prototyping and technical skill in the realisation of conceptualisations. These values allow designs to express ideas and perspectives effectively with stakeholders thereby producing contextually relevant design solutions and marketing campaigns for big tobacco.

One of the major was in which designers have a had a positive impact upon the tobacco industry and thus a negative impact upon the Indonesian people is evident within the notion of branding and packaging within Indonesia. One of the major examples of this phenomena is evident within the utilisation of colour within packaging particularly the utilisation of lighter colours in order to draw false connections between the cigarettes and less negative effects. This notion was reflected in the quote ‘ colours and descriptors are perceived by smokers to communicate health-risk information.’ (Bansal-Travers, 2011). Another example of designers negative impact through the smoking industry is evident within the campaign strategies utilised throughout Indonesia. These campaigns work through an aspirational framework similar to Australian alcohol advertisement with a significant pressure begin placed particularly on young men. These young men formate one of the strongest target groups as reflected in the quote ‘Tobacco advertisements in Indonesia often contain messages that suggest lifestyles of adventure, attractiveness and modernity. These advertisements are popular with young men and these same ads are also very attractive to younger boys. Effectively these ads would desensitize the population, priming them for smoking later in life (Ng et al., 2007).


In comparison to Australian marketing techniques, the notion of drinking as a bonding agent between young people is significantly prevalent within the smoking cultural of Indonesia with young men, in particular, asserting the place of smoking a social tool to add in the formation of friendships. This concept is corroborated within a study the World Health Organisation which suggests “ the position of the young boys as followers’, their social environment seemed to encourage and reinforce smoking to them. Cigarettes enabled the boys to develop social bonds amongst each other, maintain the group’s ‘cool’ identity and avoid social exclusion; These children see tobacco as a way to increase their social status, making it an important element of social life for boys” (Ng 2007).

In summary, designs play an important role within the effectiveness of smoking within Indonesia from both a product to campaigning perspective designers readily utilise their skills to skew and warp the perception of tobacco from a health risk to an Indonesian necessity. This question of ethical indifference allows an understanding of the significant sway a design can provide in the uptake and opinion of a product within the eyes of a consumer.


Bansal-Travers, M., Hammond, D., Smith, P. and Cummings, K. 2011, The Impact of Cigarette Pack Design, Descriptors, and Warning Labels on Risk Perception in the U.S., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol 40, no 6, pp.674-682,.

Marlboro 2014, NEVER SAY MAYBE. BE MARLBORO., viewed 21 December 2018, <;.

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. and Ohman, A. 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’ Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, vol 22, no 6, pp.794-804,.

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