Marketing Coffin Nails

H/T Harley for Tobacco Control: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, exploring the psychology of fear in antismoking warnings:

So look at the gruesome image on the packet. Read the warning, “Smoking Kills.” And now look at the recommended action… Sorry, I will reword that statement, look FOR the recommended action – No, I do not see one. Ok, so it is implied, ‘stop smoking.’ Will that be perceived as ‘effective’ advice? Well, maybe effective if it was within some range of possibility, but is it?

It set me thinking about how ineffective, in my case, the images and warnings are.

I suppose that the main thing is that I keep my tobacco in a tin, and the only time I’m likely to see images or warnings is when I re-fill the tin from a bought pack. And even then I don’t often notice them.

Occasionally, if there’s a really vile image on the pack, I’ll stick something over it. For me a nasty picture is just a nasty picture, with no content other than its nastiness. It’s like seeing a photo of someone who’s been decapitated. It’s just ugly, and I don’t want to look.

But I occasionally find myself reading the warnings, because they actually have an iota of content in them. And I wonder whether they really believe that putting something in big black capital letters actually adds any force to their message, as if making it shouty will drive home the message. And their messages are always shouted. They’re bellowed at the top of their voices.

Perhaps I should write my blog that way? Have it all in bold capitals? That would hammer home the message, wouldn’t it? Yes, I’m sure it would. Well, it works on cigarette packs, doesn’t it?

After reading about the psychology of it all, I moved on to An Outlandish Thought:

It goes like this…The Health Industry are trying to get young people to take up cigarette smoking.

The rational behind this being that they use publicity to highlight the dangers of cigarettes, therefore making them more attractive to thrill seeking youngsters. They emphasise that cigarettes are only for adults, again, making them more attractive. They hide them out of sight, and once again, an attraction. They have depicted tobacco as being ‘naughty’, something we should not do, and that society does not approve – “Wow! Let’s do it!” They have denormalized cigarette smoking, making it exotic and an act of rebellion.

To which my response was to think that if the Health Industry are trying to get young people to take up smoking, then the Tobacco Industry must be trying just as hard. Maybe they’re the ones that are really behind the health warnings? Maybe it’s a new marketing strategy? For years and years they’d been selling cigarettes with stupid anodyne names like Marlboro and Camel and Piccadilly, and slowly watching their customers drift away.

coffin_nails1Something had to be done. And they decided to change their whole strategy, and started to portray their product as something very dangerous. Rather than play down the dangers of smoking, they decided to play them up. One route might have been to market cigarettes as Coffin Nails (I spent a while designing a packet: see right), or Russian Roulette, or Cancer Sticks, or Early Death. “If the first one doesn’t kill you, the second one will.”

Smoking a cigarette would be like dicing with death, playing russian roulette, and getting a big rush whenever you survive. It would require real courage to light one up. Not like smoking Pall Mall or Silk Cut, which is totally for wusses.

But if the tobacco companies themselves didn’t think of it, it is now the strategy that is being forced on them by Tobacco Control.  They’re being required to market their product as something dangerous. So perhaps they should just go with the flow?

After all, the new marketing strategy does indeed seem to be working. Smoking prevalence was falling steadily, decade after decade, but now with smoking bans and graphic health warnings, the rot has stopped, and smoking prevalence is either flat-lining or rising slightly. And when they start selling Coffin Nails™ and I’ll Die Coughing™, sales will pick up sharply. Non-smokers will keep a packet or two of Russian Roulette™ around the house, just to show their children. Even antismokers will be unable to resist offering smokers a few Cancer Sticks™.

The same reverse marketing strategy could be used for other products. The Full English Breakfast would be renamed as The Heart Attack On A Plate. Burgers would be marketed as Junk Food. Italian food would be associated with the Mafia or Cosa Nostra. And so on. Instead of promoting the benefits of their products, they’d promote their costs.

I’m not convinced. But it’s an interesting thought to toy with.

About Frank Davis

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35 Responses to Marketing Coffin Nails

  1. jaxthefirst says:

    Weren’t there, for a short period of time a few years back, a brand of cigarettes called “Death cigarettes?” Sold in a black pack with a skull and crosbones on? I tried a pack once, back in the day when I was still a fairly new smoker and was still searching around for the brand I liked best. Unfortunately, the cigarettes inside were pretty disgusting, and I never bought another pack – which pretty much goes to prove that no matter what the packaging looks like, if the cigarettes inside are revolting they won’t sell; conversely, if the cigarettes inside are lovely then no amount of gruesome images (or plain packaging) will stop people who like them and want them, from buying them.

  2. smokervoter says:

    Myself, I’m still partial to the STANTON Filter Kings pack I designed with a little help from Microsoft Paint.

    I love the thought of uni-kids buying them because of the frumpy old professor (and the world’s foremost expert on tobacco) pictured on the front heartily endorsing them.

    And when the streets of San Francisco are littered with spent packets of old Stanny Boy’s special blend staring back at its sanitation workers, the getting really gets good.

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Anti-Smoking Movement Raids Moscow Train Station

    Smokers light up by a doorway despite a prominent “No Smoking” sign..

    Moscow’s train stations have been transformed in recent years but some things remain the same: the stress of setting off on a long distance journey. Passengers get nervous, and what do they do when they get nervous? They smoke.

    And they smoke where it is now forbidden.

    Go to Yaroslavsky Station and you will see them smoke by the station entrance, close to a sign with a cigarette packet crossed out and the words “Attention! From July 1, Federal Law No. 15: “On the protection of citizens health from the effects of tobacco smoke and from the consequences of tobacco use” came into force. Smoking by the station is forbidden. Use the specially equipped places for smoking.”

    It is six in the evening at Yaroslavsky Station and Mikhail Lazutin, head of an anti-tobacco movement turns up. Young, solidly built Lazutin, 18, is accompanied by a tiny girl, Sveta, holding a video camera.

    “One more person will come,” promises Lazutin, “with a spray. That’s a necessity for a raid. If they do not put out the cigarette after we ask them to, we will put it out ourselves with the spray. We used to spray air freshener but now we decided to use plain water.”

    “Are you not afraid of being taken to court?”

    “For what?” asked a surprised Lazutin, “We are not spraying them in the face. Only on the cigarette, when a person’s hand drops down.”

    “What if you ruin someone’s clothes? Cause psychological damage? It is hooliganism.”

    “Let them take us to court,” said Lazutin, waving his hand dismissively, “If they can prove it.”

    A month ago, Lazutin, 18, stood at a bus stop where there was a group of men smoking and some old women not smoking. He had a brainwave and started filming one man on his mobile phone, whilst telling him that it was not right that he was smoking in a public place. He avoided a fight but only because a bus arrived to save him.

    Nevertheless, Lazutin decided to organize a movement against smoking in public places, which he called “Lev Protiv” or “Leo Against” — the Leo comes from Lazutin’s zodiac sign. Together with friends, he spent a month wandering Moscow’s public spaces with a video camera demanding that smokers follow the new law.

    Once Nikita, the activist with the spray turned up, the three went off to look for smokers breaking the law. They found their first victim / reprobate smoker under the departure and arrivals board at the entrance to the train station.

    “Excuse us for bothering you, we are the movement against smoking,” Lazutin said, “You are standing under the sign saying “Smoking is forbidden.” You are breaking a federal law. Please put out the cigarette and move on to the place where you can smoke.”

    The passenger took a glance at the well-developed shoulders of Lazutin, the video camera of Sveta and dutifully put the cigarette in the bin. Others asked for the number of the law but the majority asked where can you smoke legally. It is not easy to find a place to smoke at the station. There are no directions, apart from a difficult-to-see arrow on the sign.

    The raid on smokers continues. By a fountain, a group of homeless get excited and make jokes when they see the three head toward them, especially when they see the spray. Lazutin, however, fails to see the funny side and asks them to stop smoking.

    “This is also a public place and apart from that it is also a monument — a cultural object,” he explained.

    “Two-thousand years ago Jesus allowed us to drink wine,” said one philosopher with a face the color of a brick. “And smoking he also, by the way, did not ban. Who are you to be against Jesus.”

    “It is not us but Federal Law No. 15 which was signed by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin,” replied Lazutin.

    A guard in a Russian Railways uniform walks over and asks Sveta if she has permission to film there. Lazutin explains: the head of the train station knows about the raid, as do the police.

    The guard instantly knows what to do, scolding the homeless and clearing the smokers away from the fountain.

    “We told the police right away,” explained Lazutin. “They were only glad that we were helping them. And they also help us as everyone reacts differently. For every hundred normal people, there is one wild one. I was once hit in the face. I hit him back. He tried again. He was calmed down.”

    “Leo Against” have conducted 21 raids so far in June, mainly in train stations. More people smoke at trains stations, said Lazutin and if they stop people smoking there, then it will help change the habit of smoking in other public places. The raids last for two hours and between three and 25 people take part in them.

    At that point, Alexander Arzhashchev from the transport police joins the raid. “I have come to help the lads,” he said.

    One unhappy smoker standing by the entrance to the train station soon finds himself face to face with Arzhashchev. “Violation of the federal law,” Arzhashchev said, with visible satisfaction and he takes off the man to fill out paper work for his offense.

    Later, the activists surround an old man standing not far from the ticket office and tell him to move.

    “I will not go,” he said, “The law says that you can stand 15 meters from the train station.”

    “This is a public place,” insists Lazutin.

    The man smokes in silence. Lazutin takes the sprinkler and sends a jet of water toward the smoker’s hand. He veers away. His legs are shaking, his cheeks are twitching but he stays. It is a matter of principle.

    “Show us your documents, sir,” said officer Arzhashchev.

    ”Show yours first,” the smoker responded.

    “You are breaking the law. This is vigilantism,” said the man, whose body is shaking all over. “I am calling the police.” With shaking hands he pulls out a phone, rings 112, the number for the police, and listens for a long time. “Nobody is answering.”

    He has his hand on his heart as if in pain. The policeman takes him off to the station.

    A gloomy gray mustached man with a gold signet ring looks at the activists, turns away and puffs a smoke ring into the air.

    “You are by the entrance. Smoking is forbidden here,” said Lazutin, “There is a special place for smokers.”

    “Where is it?” asked gray mustache.

    “Not here, that’s for sure.”

    The man responds with an old Russian phrase often heard at train stations and Lazutin responds by spraying him.

    “What are you doing, you fool?!” said the man moving toward Lazutin, who quickly skips away.

    “Don’t be so disrespectful. You’ve stained my shirt. … I will stuff that cigarette butt where the sun don’t shine,” he threatens.

    “Will you put out the cigarette,” asks Lazutin and sprays the man one more time.

    Surprisingly, no fight breaks out. Instead, the man damns the activists with some choice words and moves away to the smoking area.

    “I told him immediately that it was there,” said a visibly vexed Lazutin.

    “You didn’t tell him,” I said.

    “What are you on about,” said Lazutin with surprise. “Sveta, did you film it? Give me the camera to take a look.”

    “You didn’t say it. You didn’t say it,” said Nikita, the activist.“Everyone can forget something. We are also people, aren’t we?”

    • magnetic01 says:

      Lazutin, the brainwashed git that he is, is acting like the Hitler Youth.

      “Proctor (1997) continues that “throughout this period, magazines like Genussgifte (Poisons of taste or habit), Auf der Wacht (On Guard), and Reine Luft (Pure air) published a regular drumbeat against this ‘insidious poison’ [tobacco], along with articles charting the unhealthful effects of alcohol, teenage dancing, cocaine, and other vices. Dozens of books and pamphlets denounced the ‘smoking slavery’ or ‘cultural degeneration’ feared from the growth of tobacco use. Tobacco was branded ‘the enemy of world peace’, and there was even talk of ‘tobacco terror’ and ‘tobacco capitalism’ …. The Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls both published antismoking propaganda, and the Association for the Struggle against the Tobacco Danger organized counseling centers where the ‘tobacco ill’ could seek help” (p.456-457); “Hitler Youth had anti-smoking patrols all over Germany, outside movie houses and in entertainment areas, sports fields etc., and smoking was strictly forbidden to these millions of German youth growing up under Hitler.” (www.zundelsite – January 27, 1998.htm)”

      Could someone post this information as a comment to the article. For some reason I have no access to disqus.

      • Marie says:

        Hitlerjugend: “From December 1, 1936 was the membership compulsory for all German young boys if they were not of Jewish descent or had committed criminal acts. The number of members did not exceed 100,000, due to lack of coercion against young people who would not be members of the HJ. On 25 March 1939 the youth service was introduced and it was then established, that parents whose sons not volunteered, would be punished. Now the number of members increased in a short time to more than 8 million.” (Wikipedia)
        The difference is, that this Lazutin is not forced to do, what he does. That is even worse :(

        • magnetic01 says:

          The difference is, that this Lazutin is not forced to do, what he does. That is even worse :(

          You’re absolutely correct. If this nitwit was initially using air freshener (flammable) to spray onto cigarettes, he was risking setting fire to people (possibly even himself). And for what? So he can feel “superior”.

    • smokervoter says:

      If there’s a God in heaven or a commie in Russia there’s someone in Moscow who’s more solidly built than Lazutin, 18, I effing guarantee it. Actually that’s not a prerequisite.

      One of the toughest guys I’ve ever known, who went by the moniker ChiTown Hustler, taught me the fine art of the sucker punch.

      Feign compliance, even fear, keep your hands down to your side, not one move. Out of the blue sky, WHAM !!, straight shot, nail him right at the bridge of the nose. You know it’s coming, he doesn’t.

      Lights out. Follow up with a flurry of punches right into the soft temples if necessary.

      Don’t wait for the cops to show up and cite you for battery. Get the hell out of Dodge. You won.

      It’s strictly kaputsville for comrade Lazutin.

      It’ll happen sooner or later. But they’ll never report it. This was an obvious Putin propaganda hit piece.

  4. Marie says:

    I have beeb smoking Manitou for a couple of years. I always buy two green and two pink. I never read the warnings or look at the images, I just look at the green or pink color, when I chose a new pack. They are laying around in the kitchen, and when I start a new pack, I put it in a black leather case, where I can see the green or the pink top. Sometimes I buy Kings Orange, and I can see the orange top. In the moment, I have four packs, and I have no idea of which images or which warnings, there are on them.

  5. waltc says:

    I no shit think that Coffin Nails is a brilliant marketing idea, just as you/ve designed it. it would sell because it’s such a third finger in the eye. If plain packs come in, i bet you could sell that design as a pack cover. Seriously.

  6. carol2000 says:

    How about recruiting people who will actually fight the anti-smokers instead of just striking poses? Then the tide will turn.

  7. prog says:

    ‘Lots of voters are angry and disconnected, according to Labour’s Chuka Umunna, because they can’t send emails and have no idea how to use the internet. These techno-illiterates would feel a lot less alienated, continued the sage of Streatham, if only they had better digital skills.

    Chuka has it 180 degrees wrong. Many of the angriest, most alienated voters that I’ve come across feel that way precisely because of time spent online.’

    And Labour wonder why voters are abandoning it in their droves….

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      So I suppose those 500,000 thousand plus emails that the Nazis from ASH and other UK government SOCK Puppets sent to the government on plain packs about 3 years back proves they are the only ones who can stuff a Ballot email box but yet we had hundreds of thousamds of REAL EMAILS sent into the UK government defeating the proposed plain packs law. Remember that everybody

  8. Cynicus Maximus says:

    Completely off topic but worthy of a glance.
    The British Government has admitted it will be unable to control the return of terrorists from the Middle East ( Syria/Iraq) as its resources are stretched to the limit searching for Golden Virginia
    and Benson&Hedges hidden in the knikkers and underpants of geriatric British pensioners.
    The above terrorist groups have introduced a TOTAL ban on tobacco in their seized territories
    in anticipation of a substantial financial grant form ASH and the BMA to enforce implementation
    with assurances the funds will not be used for the Crucixion of Christians,castration of Gays or the
    hanging of Jews.
    PPS For the time being lets carry on muttering and twittering………Cheers

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Any money those fuckatrds would get would go into the massive kitty and be used to do all their dirty work. If its another world war they want they will damn sure get it!

  9. beobrigitte says:

    After all, the new marketing strategy does indeed seem to be working. Smoking prevalence was falling steadily…

    Indeed, smoking prevalence was falling steadily without prohibition. People DID take these warnings to heart. But the anti-smoking brigade could not wait; it became impatient and funds for their cause were drying up.

    By now people are fed up with “health-warnings”, especially the smoking ones. Added to these fed up people is a large number of former-smokers-now-vapers who genuinely believed that “smoking-kills”; having tried the (useless) offers available at smoking cessation clinics and eventually found vaping to be a great alternative to smoking. These former-smokers-now-vapers find themselves kicked outside if they wish to vape.

    So much for what brought us the smoking ban. PASSIVE SMOKE DAMAGE.
    There is NONE with cigarettes and NONE with e-cigs.

    The anti-smokers’ argument: Vaping REMINDS people of smoking……

    Oh, and the latest:

    “They’re attracted to the flavours. If e-cigarettes are just a smoking aid for adults, why a gummy bear flavour?”

    Perhaps ADULTS enjoy this flavour?

    In any case, going for the e-cig is the final nail in the coffin of tobacco control. To that I will light up a so-called coffin nail (JEEEZ!!! There is no space left on my coffin; I have smoked now for 45 years!!!!) and ENJOY it tremendously.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Just got back from the Veterans Hospital dental in Nashville I sat there for 3 hours and watched over 30 people get called back and leave and Im still sitting there not being called back or anything!

    This has happened before and is why I hardly ever use the VA for anything………….The last time was 16 years ago when after being there since 7 am finally at 5;30 pm I get offered a bed in the hospital and a promise to be seen first in the morning…………..I told them KMW REDNECK ASS! and left………………Its Bullshit to have to put up with shit like this after serving so damn many years for this damn country…fuckem all I have no use for any of it especially when the side of your mouth is swollen into you sinuses from an infected but pulled tooth!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I left because I know after the 3 hour mark it aint gonna happen ever for ya in that maze of WORTHLESS GOVERNMENT EMPLOYED SHITZ!

    • Frank Davis says:

      What/where next to try?

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        I guess the slop house,the old welfare dentist I know up in Bowling Green. At least he sees his patients and you get the same doc each and everytime I go there but not at the VA! You never know what you will get or see. His costs are pretty reasonable like 50 bucks a tooth for pulling. He will call in scripts if you need em too later on.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          I m cooling off now.My Nuclear moments come after about 2 hours driving and somewhere between 2-3 hours waiting. Then 2 hours drive back home and I could likely have just wasted 120 bucks at my local dentist with meds and about only 2 hours total time. Instead I wasted 50 bucks in gas all day and got nothing but Pissed off.

          So Im gonna call the dentist in BG tomorrow and get in Within 2 days. Likely I will even get an appointment in the morning tomorrow.

  11. DP says:

    Dear Mr Davis

    A timely reminder that it is National Smoking Day a week tomorrow (Tuesday) – 1 July.

    Time for my second ciggie of the year. Yay!


    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Then its time for my 20 thousandths!

      The Nurse asked me in a serious tone how much do you smoke a day. I said at least a carton! She kept on asking over and over again then I went Viral on dat ass and gave her a lecture in what they use that stupid questioning for and that I wouldn’t be a party to BS statistical manipulations to help out smokefree Nazis and the war on me and my fellow smokers around the Globe…………..She left!

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    “Psychiatric Prejudice” – A New Way of Silencing Criticism

    Joanna Moncrieff, MD

    June 23, 2014

    ‘Psychiatric prejudice’ is a term being bandied about these days, mainly by aggrieved psychiatrists who feel that psychiatry is not being given equal status with other medical specialties. Ordinary people, other doctors and medical students are all prejudiced, they say, because they do not appreciate that psychiatry is a proper medical activity, and critics of psychiatry are prejudiced because their analyses undermine this medical point of view.1

    Obviously no one can afford to be labeled as prejudiced, so whether it is conscious or not this looks like an attempt to silence criticism and shut down debate. If successful it will deny people access to many valid criticisms of psychiatric diagnoses and treatments and to hearing other views about how to respond to mental health problems.

  13. Ingrid says:

    Your post reminded me of this video:

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    Andrew Phillips

    2 hrs · .

    Very good news unless Oweasel decides he can ignore the Supreme Court as wel

    BREAKING: Supreme Court Delivers Massive Blow to the EPA

    The Supreme Court ruled today in a split decision to limit some of the EPA’s new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

    The Environmental Protection Agency passed new rules earlier this year that drastically increased their regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, requiring costly permits from any business that released over a certain threshold of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere.

    The new regulations have been widely criticized as being “anti-coal” and destructive to the coal and power plant industries, which produces the majority of electricity in this country. The regulations will do little to stop or lessen pollution, and will only drive up energy costs while hurting businesses and killing jobs.

    Senator Rand Paul has vowed to fight the regulations, calling them “illegal” and promising to work towards repealing them.

    Michele Canada Tittler well…since there is NO global warming or man-made climate change, this seems to be a step in the direction of sanity, long ago departed from these discussions.

    2 hrs · Like · 3

  15. harleyrider1978 says:


    Tobacco industry dismissed as untrustworthy over arguments to cut smoking – See more at:

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