Tobacco brands will thrive despite plain packaging: Experts

As many revel in the wake of yesterday's landmark tobacco ruling, experts have suggested tobacco marketers will find ways to combat the wrath.

The High Court yesterday deemed the Federal Government's plain packaging laws constitutional, allowing it to push ahead with its Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011, which calls for all tobacco products to be sold in olive-brown packaging from 1 December. The brand name will appear in small lettering accompanied by health warnings.

Euro RSCG's head of planning Phil Johnston told AdNews that brands would be "foolish not to have plans in place" and they will "keep thinking of ways to get around plain packaging to promote themselves."

"Social media seems like an area to look at", Johnson added. "Although, I don't know how they would, I don't know if they're allowed to, and I hope they don't for society's sake".

JMK'S chief executive Julian Martin agreed brands may turn to social media. "We are an increasingly global society. Brands will still find ways to communicate."

They have lost the ability to market locally, Martin added, but said this "doesn't mean there aren't other social or global ways in which brands will reach people".

Blue Marlin Asia Pacific managing director Marshall Ward told AdNews he would be "very surprised if brands haven't had plans in place since the law was drafted", and if they haven't, "they're in trouble".

Marshall argued despite the ruling throwing the "cat amongst the pigeons for marketers in terms of how they now promote and sell brands", they will find other ways to defend their territory and "ensure communication continues between the cigarette and the smoker".

Marshall added: "It's going to make the long-term future of brands much more challenging". He said it now comes down to "taste instead of badge value".

"It's going to potentially open up pandora's box for other categories of society to be scrutinised, like alcohol", he suggested.

However, Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said in a press conference yesterday: "There are no plans to extend this to alcohol. We've been clear that tobacco is the only legal product that if you use exactly as intended, it will kill you."

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