Post A: You can say ‘No’!

As my tutor once said,

Don’t be that guy who designs a betting ad on the Sydney Opera House.

(T. Stoddard 2018, pers. comm., 26 October)

Such advice is important to remember going into the ‘real world’ and realising that with design comes responsibility, especially when you have industries going unchecked like the Australian betting industry or big tobacco in Indonesia.

(Dragfepic n.d.)(PapaTama n.d.)

Integral to the Indonesian tobacco industry’s success is the pervasive nature of their advertisements and the way in which they pinpoint and target specific values like nationalism and modernity. In the upscale Djarum Black’s adverts, the sleek black packet is depicted as elegant and directly appeals to the upper middle class and the modern smoker. It notes that those who smoke Djarum Black are progressive and value new ideas. Similarly, their advert for “New Djarum Black Cappuccino” features a costly drink that isn’t drunk by the masses, linking this refined modern taste with traditional Indonesian kretek (Nichter et al. 2009). It’s this visual freedom that Indonesia’s tobacco design has, compared to somewhere like Australia, that allows it to play such a huge role in its success.


(Sydney Morning Herald 2018)

In Australia, a comparative case where one industry was given overreaching freedom in its advertising medium is the scandal around Racing NSW’s use of the Sydney Opera House for its own advertisement. This kind of promotion comes in breach of the guidelines for the World Heritage-listed structure to be managed in the public interest (The Age 2018), and while Racing NSW is not a private company, it sets precedent for big brands to target landmark sites such as this. While it is unlikely that Racing NSW will attempt to advertise on the sails of Sydney Opera House again (Butson 2018) due to the massive backlash, it is imperative that Australians remain vigilant against such propaganda taking over our beloved landmarks, as has already been demonstrated through active protest.

While we do not always have control, as designers, over the content we design, we do have the choice to design for causes we believe will better humanity or protest as consumers against a design which oversteps its place.


Butson, T. 2018, Racing NSW unlikely to replicate Opera House race projection after backlash, SBS News, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

Dragfepic n.d., viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Pradanbari, Y. & Nichter, M. 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

PapaTama n.d., Djarum, Pinterest, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

Sydney Morning Herald, Cheap ads must not tarnish Opera House brand, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

The Age 2018, Iconic Opera House trashed by betting ad, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

POST A: Design Activism

Design plays a significant role in any matter, as it constructs the perceptions held by the public. In Indonesia, design is utilised as a tool to further tobacco consumerism, manifesting in advertisements. Due to the lack of regulations enforced by the Indonesian government, tobacco advertising is consequently extremely effective (Nichter et al. 2009). As tobacco companies are politically and financially powerful within the country, bringing large sources of government revenue, the Indonesian government is therefore reluctant to place restrictions upon the tobacco industry (Nichter et al. 2009). The government’s support for tobacco can therefore be seen by their refusal to sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), making Indonesia the only country in South East Asia which has not signed the treaty (Prabandari et al. 2015).

For the global studio in Ambon, we as designers had the difficult task of raising awareness of tobacco’s detrimental effects through design activism. My group produced a mural which requested audience participation for its completion, spreading awareness and encouraging support for the establishment of a smoke-free environment. For our design project, the involvement of Vital Strategies was essential to executing our plan, an organisation who partners with the government to create and implement public health initiatives (Vital Strategies 2018).

Figure 1: mural promoting a smoke-free environment

Furthermore, as the government supports tobacco industries, much of the health promotion against tobacco activity in Indonesia is carried out instead by non-government organisations, including public health and medical associations (Barraclough 1999). This is exemplified by the willingness of the local Puskesmas to cooperate with us to spread anti-tobacco awareness.

Resembling Indonesia’s large market for tobacco, Australia’s billion-dollar alcohol industry similarly poses as a major issue that invites design activism (Ditchburn 2018). The founders of the start-up Sparkke sought to challenge the direction of the Australian alcohol industry which they found too “male, pale and stale” with what they perceived as “downright misogynistic ads” (Ditchburn 2018). Instead, Sparkke seeks to push boundaries and spark conversations about prevalent social issues. To do this, Sparkke created a range of 6 canned drinks, consisting of slogans that bring awareness to important social issues, such as sexual consent, asylum seekers and the date of Australia or Invasion Day (Blandford 2018). Sparkke also donates 10% of direct sales to social causes (Ditchburn 2018). Although Sparkke’s love of pushing boundaries and the company’s social activism attracts its natural market of the millennials (Ditchburn 2018), the company still faces many challenges including the inevitable backlash it received from such strong messages (Blandford 2018).

Figure 2: Sparkke canned beverage (Verity 2018)



Barraclough, S. 1999, ‘Women and tobacco in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 327-332.

Blandford, M. 2018, Sparkke beer and wine company shakes up the local alcohol industry with its provocative labels, Good Food, viewed 31st January 2019, <;.

Ditchburn, E. 2018, How Female-led Startup Sparkke Advocates Social Change with Booze, Collective Hub, viewed 31st January 2019, <;.

Prabandari Y., Nichter M., Nichter M., Padmawathi R. & Muramoto M. 2015, ‘Laying the groundwork for Tobacco Cessation Education in medical colleges in Indonesia’, Education for Health, vol. 28, no. 3, p. 169.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Prabandari, Y. & Nichter, M. 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 98-107.

Vital Strategies 2018, About Us, USA, viewed 31st January 2019, <;.


Verity 2018, Sparkke Change Beverage Co., viewed 31st January 2019, <;.


Post C: In Short Supply Of Anti Venom

“If you get bitten by a snake [in Ambon], I don’t think you’re going to live.”

Yulian Huningkor, interning doctor at the CH. M. TIAHAHU Puskesmas, gave this example when discussing the limitations of the Ambonese healthcare system.

Being a small island almost 4,000km from the capital, the movement of medical supplies can only occur in bulk via air or sea. It is slow, expensive, and will not occur unless there is a large demand for it. Yulian states that the hospitals and medical clinics do not want to risk finances purchasing large quantities of specialised medicines (or anti venom), which are likely to expire before they are even used.

Yulian’s college education in Jakarta was based around Western medical practices… but did not prepare him for the shocking reality of the Ambonese community health clinics.

I had the chance to visit the Kayu Putih Puskesmas, located in the mountain village of Soya. The building and equipment were in dire need of refurbishment; it was poorly lit and didn’t exude the pristine and reliable atmosphere I’m used to in Australian health services.

Kayu Puti Puskesmas Treatment Room (Belinda Te 2019)

The image of the clinic was at the forefront of my mind at the Mayor’s dinner party, in the aggressive display of wealth in the lavish government house.

Table setting in the front garden of the Mayor’s house (Annemarie Gad 2019)

At this comparison, Yulian admitted that distance isn’t the only challenge affecting healthcare quality.

“The funding usually goes to something else that’s important according to the government… but personally, I don’t know what’s more important than a human’s health.”

Not only this, but “the corruption here has been a very chronic problem.”

Indonesia sits in the top 100 most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (Ibbetson 2019), squandering funding that could be used towards improving public health (Juwita 2017).

I wondered if anybody had ever fought the poison in the health system, but Yulian explained “only a few people that understand the problem want to fight… but their aspirations are often neglected by the governments.” The lack of information and education also play a part in how many people are aware of the issues, let alone aware of how to combat it.

But Yulian is quite optimistic for Indonesia’s future.

“The development sure can take a while… But it will happen… so in the meantime I will just have to do whatever is necessary… any small action I do for these people here really has a very big impact on their lives.”

In a country snaked by its own government, in short supply of anti venom, it’s the small actions of individuals like Yulian that make the long wait bearable.

Reference List

Ibbetson, R. 2019, ‘The world’s worst corrupt countries revealed’, Daily Mail Australia, 29 January, viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

Juwita, R. 2017, ‘Health sector corruption as the archenemy of universal health care in Indonesia’, Mimbar Hukum, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 162-175.

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 C: Interview with Roze

I met Roze during our groups expedition for a shop to print the stickers we needed as a prop for the parade. He is a 30-year-old Indonesian man and spends most of his time in Java, Indonesia. Roze comes to Ambon often as he runs a clove oil business which sells well in Ambon, he also thoroughly enjoys the friendly people and has family here as well. His attitude towards smoking was very intriguing as he stated, “I realise it’s bad for me”, although being a large part of Indonesian culture it’s a hard habit to quit, as he has tried to do multiple times already. He mentioned that he would go a few weeks without smoking, then a friend would offer him a cigarette, and he would give in instantly.

Fig. 1: Roze leading us around Ambon’s town centre (Domenico P. 2019)

Being an ex-literature graduate, Roze, was incredibly good at English despite not having spoken the language for over five years. I eagerly began to delve deeper into his clover oil business as I found it interesting that he would start a company such as this with next to zero business experience. Cloves are the flower buds of a commonly found tree native to the Maluku islands, in which Ambon is situated. Roze uses a steaming technique to extract the oils from the cloves and sell it in its purest form. The plants are grown and processed back in Java and then distributed in Ambon, he is currently very small scale; growing, transporting, labelling and distributing the oils himself. With his amazing salesman technique, he explained that clove oil has many medicinal benefits like numbing pains such as; tooth or even muscle aches.

Related image
Fig. 2: Clove Tree with buds soon to be harvested.

A major reason I found this so intriguing is clove is the main spice Indonesians use in their cigarette of choice, Kretek. Over 95% of the cigarettes that are sold in Indonesia are Kretek cigarettes, which contain around 25% clove spice to 75% tobacco. This means clove farmers have a multitude of options for their product, other than for cigarettes. Clove oil, although used extensively especially in Indonesia, doesn’t have the full research to scientifically back up most claims, meaning people are still sceptical of the benefits it possesses. As tobacco consumption reduces, hopefully, in Indonesia, more farmers will turn to producing and exporting spices such as clove. This would be a great opportunity as clove oil is scarcely available and expensive in most western areas.

Fig. 3: Roze’s clove oil (Domenico P. 2019)



Fig. 1: Pamela. (2018). Best Plants for Mind, Body and Soul pt. 2: Cloves,, Viewed 31 January, 2019. < >