POST A: Two parties using design to their advantage

As designers, we hold far more responsibility than ever in this digital world where technology is relied on. A designer has the power to control how a space can be more hospitable and the way the general population consumes context (Role of design in society, chapter 1).

In Indonesia, the tobacco industry has used design to their advantage in order to boost tobacco consumerism. A tobacco company giant that has been notorious in pushing their kretek products to men through heavy graphics is ‘PT Gudang Garam’. In their graphics, they depict masculine men and this notion of masculinity has been further supported by their infamous slogan ‘Kretekeknya lelaki’, meaning ‘man’s cigarette’. This has been successful as more than 62% of their men smoke and 90% of are kretek smokers (Tobacco control, 2009). This graphic design as a form of advertising to a large demographic is dangerous in a country like Indonesia as it has not signed with the ‘WHO-FCTC’ (WHO, 2015) which means mainstream tobacco advertising coverage is still prevalent. So why are the deaths of these men ignored? The tobacco industry is one of the largest source of government revenue (Tobacco control, 2009) and with the backing of the government, the industry thrives.

Masculine graphic advertisement by Gudang Garam. Catherine Reynolds, 1999, Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”, viewed 20 December 2019, https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/8/1/85

The continuous use of political power and design, Gudang Garam held a rock competition in 2007 and a rock festival called Rockinland in 2011. These festivals were again targeted at males, as all of their graphic promotional materials depicted rock symbols which were masculine. Apart from that, Rockinland’s lineup were male rockstars to further portray this lifestyle of ruggedness. Similarly, the Jakarta open which was a male’s tennis event was also sponsored by the tobacco industry. Drawing considerations starting from as simple as masculine graphics to enlisting only male stars ultimately is clever design as each element is cohesively attractive to their male target market.

A graphic poster showcasing Rockin’land’s male dominated lineup. Cranberriesworld, 2011, ‘Rockinland festival lineup’, viewed 20 December 2019, http://cranberriesworld.com/live/concerts/java-rockinland-festival-2011-2011-07-23/.

A communal organisation however, has used this design formula to advocate for a more sustainable future. ‘Kartel Awul Yogyarkata’ holds events targeted at youths, predominately males with their primary focus on encouraging them to trade and sell used clothing. The events are generally held at the few skateparks alongside local punk bands in order to appeal to this demographic. Similarly, they advertise graphically through their cult online presence. Although these events do not have primary involvement with tobacco, they do have anti-smoking zones in the larger areas of these events such as the foodcourt and the thrift stalls which can discourage general smoking there.

A band playing at the Kartel Awul YG event I attended, 2019.
stakeholder map and chain to vaguely show the relationship both parties share with government and people of Indonesia, 2019.

Catherine Reynolds, 1999, Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”, viewed 20 December 2019, https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/8/1/85

Cranberriesworld, 2011, ‘Rockinland festival lineup’, viewed 20 December 2019, http://cranberriesworld.com/live/concerts/java-rockinland-festival-2011-2011-07-23/.

Mimi Nitcher, 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia ‘, tobaccocontrol, viewed 20 December 2019, https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/18/2/98.

SEATCA, 2010, ‘International artists performing at Indonesian tobacco-sponsored rock festival despite protests’, viewed 20 December 2019, https://seatca.org/international-artists-performing-at-indonesian-tobacco-sponsored-rock-festival-despite-protests/.

World health organisation, 2015, ‘Tobacco control in Indonesia’, WHO, viewed 20 December 2019, https://www.who.int/tobacco/about/partners/bloomberg/idn/en/.

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