Post A: Design and its Influence

It has been said that “designers have the ability to make choices that affect how other human beings live their lives” (Reese N.D.), which is to say that designers have the ability to influence societies in what is seen as desirable and what is not. Tobacco advertising in Indonesia is rampant with it being the only country in South East Asia “that still allows direct tobacco advertising” (Tjandra 2018). Since “design influences consumerism, socially acceptable behaviours, incomes, as well as gender roles” (Reese N.D.) culturally, it’s no wonder that smoking has become enforced as a cultural norm. 

Tobacco is seen “as a sign of masculinity” (Liew & Hsu 2009) and the tobacco companies know how to use this to their advantage as many cigarette advertisements are designed so that they are “tied to masculinity relating to physical strength and strength of character” (Nichter et al. 2008). Advertising is also created in such a way that it “appeals to the upper middle class, modern smoker” (Nichter et al. 2008), suggesting that designers have consciously designed it so that it attracts the target market. Through these design decisions, smoking is associated with positive connotations and is seen as a cultural, social acceptable norm, expanding the influence of the tobacco industry. Due to this image, designers together with partner stakeholders for activism may find it difficult to promote anti-smoking campaigns as smoking has become deep-rooted in Indonesian culture. Tobacco companies also hold a lot of leverage in Indonesia as they are an important source of government revenue. This shows that there are still large hurdles to overcome if design activism was to take place and suggests that the effectiveness of such activism would be lower due to the cultural and geographical context.

Drinking is a huge part of South Korean culture with the country being ranked the ninth-heaviest drinking nation amongst developed countries (Lee 2018). Like Indonesia, marketing also plays a role in encouraging this culture as many bottle labels “have photos of young actors and pop artists, encouraging their teenage fan bases to purchase their star-endorsed beverage” (Tammycho96 2016). In a similar fashion to cigarette advertising, this association through branding helps target a certain audience and make drinking seem desirable. South Korea plans to ban “advertisements by models drinking alcohol and beer” and is placing “restrictions on alcohol advertising” (Lee 2018) to discourage drinking. It can be seen that some work has been made in addressing the issue of drinking and in removing models and advertising, creating a gap between alcohol and any positive connotations which may be connected with it.

(Branding in Asia 2015)

Through these examples it can be seen that design does have an overall effect on consumers and that these industries strengthen their influence through such means. With the nature of these industries being so ingrained in cultural aspects amongst other variables, it may still be difficult for designers to become an ethical influence.  


Reese, C. n.d., ‘The Societal Influence of Graphic Design’, The Societal Influence of Graphic Design, viewed 31 January 2019, <;.

Tjandra, N. 2018, ‘‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked’, The Conversation, 1 June, viewed 31 January 2019, <;.

Liew H.P., Hsu, T. 2009, ‘SMOKING AND HEALTH IN INDONESIA: The need for comprehensive intervention strategies’, Asian Population Studies, vol. 5, viewed 31 January 2019, <;.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N. Prabandari, Y. & Nichter, M. 2008, ‘ Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control 2009, vol. 18, viewed 31 January 2019,<;.

Lee, W. 2018, ‘ South Korea to restrict alcohol advertising, including by models’, UPI, 13 November, viewed 31 January 2019, <;.

Tammycho93 2016, ‘A sobering look at South Korea’s drinking culture’, weblog, The Monsoon Project, viewed 31 January 2019, <;.

Branding in Asia 2015, Celebrities In The Spotlight, viewed 31 January 2019, <;.

Post C: Opinions on Tobacco Advertising

During my time in Ambon, Indonesia, I was able to observe the prevalence of smoking and the influences which brought about this smoking culture within the city. One aspect which stood out to me was the use of tobacco advertising throughout the city. For my interview, I interviewed Friend T, who hails from Jakarta, on his views on smoking and advertising as a comparison to what I observed in Ambon.

In preliminary questioning, I found that although Friend T himself did not smoke, a number of his family did as well as his best friend. They generally started at a young age, with his best friend starting to smoke after school at age 15, confirming some of the secondary research I had done.

I asked about the frequency in which he saw advertising for cigarettes and he mentioned that it has greatly diminished. He states that he used to be able to see their cigarette advertisements on television and on billboards but observes that advertisements are now mostly seen at large events, such as music festivals and sports, which bring in international brands or artistes. To this observation, I was a little surprised as there are plenty of banners and billboards along the streets of Ambon. Further, he mentions that “[Cigarette companies] compete with each other to bring the best events into Indonesia and are basically the only companies that are big enough to make these kinds of events” suggesting that in Jakarta, these companies have found a more indirect way to advertise their products through association with popular culture. This form of advertising is effective as “attitude towards advertisements is interpreted as a situation bound emotional reaction to the advertisement generated at the time of exposure” (Ramadhani & Hidayat 2009). I found it interesting how the advertising in the remote Ambon was more direct in comparison to capital city of Jakarta.  

When asked about his opinion on the effectiveness of advertising, he replied that he was unsure of how to answer as he believed that most Indonesians started to smoke as they saw it as something cool and as a result of peer pressure. Studies have also shown that “peers were the most dominant mediators in the onset (and maintenance) of smoking behaviour” (Smeta et al. 1999). Hence, smoking is becoming a normalcy amongst teenagers. For example, Friend T’s best friend started smoking as he saw his friend’s brother smoke and thought it was a cool thing to do. Although not observed in the interview, I believe that prominence of cigarette companies at popular events has a direct effect on this image of coolness that is associated with smoking. In the same way, the direct advertising I saw in Ambon also gave off a similar image of ‘impressive’ and ‘attractive’ (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman 2006). Therefore, although the methods are not identical, it appears advertising is prevalent within Indonesia.


Ramadhani, V., Hidayat, A. 2009, ‘Smoking Behaviour Study on Teenagers’, Jurnal Siasat Bisnis, vol. 13, viewed 31 January 2019, <>.

Smeta, B., Maesb, L., De Clercqa, L., Haryantic, K., Winarnoc, R.D. 1999, ‘Determinants of smoking behaviour among adolescents in Semarang, Indonesia’, Tobacco Control 1999, vol. 8, viewed 31 January 2019, <>.

Ng, N., Weinehall, L. & 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, viewed 31 January 2019, <>.

Post D: Tobacco & Advertising

With a “67% prevalence of males aged 15 and above being smokers” (Prabandari & Dewi 2016) and tobacco companies being the “government’s largest source of revenue after oil, gas and timber, and the nation’s second largest employer after the government” (Reynolds 1999), it is clear how ingrained the tobacco industry has become within Indonesia.  Even within the more remote city of Ambon, there are men waiting around whilst smoking or even smoking whilst driving, showing just how deeply smoking culture has seeped into their daily lives.   

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Post B: Singapore Case Study

(Ogilvy & Mather Singapore 2014)

Singapore has been “implementing tobacco control policies as early as 1971” (Lopez, Collishaw & Piha 1994) and is said to have one of the lowest rates of smoking in Asia, at around 13% of the population (Amul & Pang 2018). In line with the guideline set by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Singapore has managed to maintain their current smoking population for the past few years (Amul & Pang 2018). One such example of tobacco control would be the annual ‘I Quit’ campaign, an ongoing anti-smoking movement that was launched in 2011 by the government-run Health Promotion Board (HPB) in collaboration with Ogilvy & Mather Singapore to promote and encourage smoking cessation amongst existing smokers.

(Ogilvy Asia 2011)

The promotion of this campaign in 2011 features an ‘I Quit’ logo as well as posters and a video to create awareness for the various smoking cessation programs run by the HPB. The posters and videos feature a number of smokers holding two fingers up in a pledge, with shirts that state ‘I quit because…’ along with a handwritten reason, making it feel more personalised. The same pledge pose is also used in the logo, highlighting a running theme within the campaign. It is said that this pledge pose is symbolic of “how a smoker holds a cigarette to form a pledge sign” (Missy Lim 2012). As there are a large number and variety of people featured in these posters and the video, it creates a larger sense of inclusion and community, implying that quitters are not alone. This may work as a form of encouragement to quit and correlates with the aim of the campaign. The posters were mostly seen around in Singapore’s public train system, giving the campaign a wider reach.

Rather than trying to scare smokers into quitting, as most traditional anti-smoking campaigns do, with the campaign taking a “pro-quitting approach” which gets smokers to “give up cigarettes by encouraging and inspiring them” (Gallezo-Estaura 2014) instead. This form of advertising is said to be more effective than regular forms of advertising as it gives way to “a new participatory model of communications through peer support, an always-on social media platform and community generated content”(Gallezo-Estaura 2014), adding a more emotional and relatable touch.

It has been said that this campaign “reversed a five year upward trend in smoking in Singapore” (Gallezo-Estaura 2014). In a study of Singaporean youth’s perception of anti-smoking campaigns, the ‘I Quit’ campaign was “commended for being non-stigmatising” and due to its reach on social media, had an “extensive reach as youths were highly aware of this campaign” (Shahwan et al. 2016), highlighting the spread of awareness for this campaign and its programs. In one such program, the I Quit 28-Day Countdown, out of the 10 000 participants in 2014, “57% now smoke less or have quit smoking” (Lo 2015), which shows that the campaign has been rather successful.


Lopez, A.D., Collishaw, N.E. & Piha, T. 1994, ‘A Descriptive Model of the Cigarette Epidemic in Developed Contries’, Tobacco Control 1994, vol. 3, pp. 242-247, viewed 10 January 2019, <>.

Amul, G.G.H. & Pang, T. 2018, ‘Progress in Tobacco Control in Singapore: Lessons and Challenges in the Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’, Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, viewed 10 January 2019, <>.

Ogilvy Asia 2011, Health Promotion Board – I Quit, video recording, YouTube, viewed 10 January 2019,  <>.

Missy Lim 2012, ‘Print Versus Online Designing’, weblog, media-diz Blog, viewed 10 January 2019, <>.

Gallezo-Estaura, K. 2014, ‘Check how this campaign compelled many Singaporeans to quit smoking’, Singapore Business Review, 20 June, viewed 10 January 2019, <>.

Shahwan, S., Fauziana, R.,  Satghare, P., Vaingankar, J., Picco, L., Chong, S.A. & Subramaniam, M. 2016, ‘Qualitative study of Singaporean youths’ perception of antismoking campaigns: what works and what does not’, Tobacco Control 2016, vol. 25, viewed 10 January 2019, <>.

Lo, T. 2015, ‘ ‘I Quit’ campaign helps smokers kick habit’, The New Paper, 26 June, viewed 10 January 2019, <>.

Health Promotion Board 2014, Health Promotion Board Unveils Two-Pronged Strategy to Step Up Tobacco Control Efforts on World No Tobacco Day, Singapore, viewed 10 January 2019, <>.

Ogilvy & Mather Singapore 2014, Turning Quitters into Champions, Singapore Business Review, viewed 10 January 2019, <×360/news/IQuit.jpeg>.