POST A: Designing for Culture Jamming, Convenience and Social Change

Every year more than 225700 people in Indonesia are killed by tobacco-caused diseases and around 148705 tonnes of butts and packs wind up as toxic trash (Tobacco Atlas 2019). Despite this statistic, Big Tobacco is still an empire in Indonesia and it’s because of the way culture jamming and convenience have been designed around smoking. This can be compared to the red meat industry in Australia in the table below:

Tobacco in Indonesia
Red Meat in Australia
Health Issues
Every year more than 225700 people in Indonesia are killed by tobacco-caused diseases.
More than half the Australian population is overweight or obese and diet-related illnesses such as some cancers, type-2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke are amongst our biggest killers (Sustainable Table n.d.) Australian consumers are eating more than four times the amount of beef and veal and six times the amount of sheep and mutton when compared to global consumption averages (Ernst & Young 2017).
Environmental Issue
148705 tonnes of butts and packs wind up as toxic trash (Tobacco Atlas 2019).
Refer to Figure 1: Environmental Inputs and Outputs of Our Food System
Ergonomically, the cigarette packaging has a compact design which allows the smoker to store it in their pocket easily. The lid is also reusable and due to policy, the warning label only covers 40% of the box (Tobacco Control Laws 2019). Cigarettes are very easily accessible and most shop owners ignore the under 18 rule because punishments aren’t enforced which makes cigarettes a convenient product (2019, pers. comm., 20 Jan).
Meat companies advertise convenience and ease along with catchy slogans like ‘Put Some Pork on Your Fork’, ‘You’ll Never Lamb Alone’ and ‘Australia Beef the Greatest’ (Meat and Livestock Australia 2019). The design of ad (figure 2), makes meat seem like it is easy and quick to cook but also is an example of food porn which can induce salivation, not to mention the release of digestive juices as the gut prepares for what is about to come (The Guardian 2017).
Society and Culture
Socially, as discussed in my blog Smoke, Eat, Drink, Repeat, the design of advertisements, slogans and campaigns have created a culture where smoking it the norm and men feel and identify themselves as strong and masculine when they smoke.
Like smoking, the culture around eating red meat is the real issue. Historically, meat has always been associated with men. In evolutionary times and in many hunter-gatherer societies, it’s a male’s responsibility to hunt for food. In the West, it’s often considered to be a ‘man’s job’ to cook a barbecue (Noone 2018).


Inputs and Outputs.png
Figure 1: (Environmental Inputs and Outputs of Our Food System n.d.)

Figure 2: (Meat and Livestock Australia 2018)

Thus, both smoking and eating meat are behaviours majorly influenced by cultural norms and associations with masculinity, brought about through marketing schemes and campaigns.

So with an issue so complex, how can designers be an ethical influence and an agent for change through design activism? In terms of working with other stakeholders, there is a hierarchy when it comes to the involvement of the designer (Paton & Dorst 2010). The most ideal way a designer can contribute is if they take on the ‘collaborator’ role (figure 3) at the beginning stages. This is because the designer has the most involvement and therefore a thorough understanding of the design problem, journey and solution and then may result in a greater outcome.

Figure 3: (Briefing Modes 2010)

The aim of reframing during briefing is so that both parties negotiate a mutually apprehended frame that is actionable. This may involve initial meetings, research and identifying what the client actually wants rather than what they say or think they want. There are strategies that help the designer find this. This includes asking questions involving soft skills and identifying specifics. Dialogue is essential in opening up clients’ perspectives and introducing them to ideas that weren’t considered before (Paton 2010). This can help remove the barriers (figure 4). Other barriers may include different ideas about the budget, time restrictions and/or extent of knowledge about the subject.

Figure 3: (Barriers and Enablers during Briefing 2010)

In terms of designing for social change, by identifying the target behaviours, designers can then extract the attitudes behind them and then the values that influence those attitudes. Effective designers will target values that people are more willing to respond to, based on their intrinsic, benevolence, universalism and self-directed values within their culture (Schwartz 2012). Different people have different values, thus, may be triggered by only a specific designs. For example, in Indonesia, tobacco health warnings will not be effective on people that believe tobacco makes you a strong man. However, if a husband valued honouring his wife and she told him not to smoke, then this may be a more effective way of designing for behaviour change. If one valued convienience over environmental impacts, then a campaign about global warming won’t stop that person from reducing their meat intake. Thus, it’s important to conduct extensive primary and secondary research in order to find the target behaviours, attitudes and values.

Overall, it’s the designers choice whether or not to be involved in a project. They can decide whether their morals line up with the ethical impacts. When it come to tackling culture jamming, as evident with Big Tobacco and the Red Meat Industry, designers must collaborate with partner stakeholders, research and continue to iterate throughout, in order to be an effective agent for change through design activism.



Ernst & Young 2017, State of the Industry Report: The Australian Red Meat and Livestock Industry, Meat and Livestock Australia, Sydney, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Meat and Live Stock Australia 2019, Beef Campaigns, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Noone, Y. 2018, What your meat-eating habits say about your desired social class, SBS, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Paton & Dorst 2010, Briefing and Reframing, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Schwartz, H. 2012, ‘An Overview of the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values’, Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, viewed 1 February 2019, <;.
Sustainable Table n.d., Meat the Issues – Enviro + Health Impacts of Our Food System, Clifton Hill, viewed 1 February 2019 <.>.
The Guardian 2017, From Instagram to TV ads, what’s the science behind food porn?, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Tobacco Atlas 2019, Indonesia, American Cancer Society, Inc. & Vital Strategies, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Tobacco Control Laws 2019, Introduction, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Washington DC, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

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