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Is Pantone 448C Really The Worlds Ugliest Colour?


Is Pantone 448C Really The Worlds Ugliest Colour?

8th Jun 2016

PANTONE 448C, claimed to be the world’s ugliest colour by a British research team hired by the Australian government managed to vet the entire pantone library of its current 1,114 colours in search for the “ugliest” for a very unique task.

The United Kingdom, Ireland and France have followed suit and passed “plain packaging” laws on cigarettes intended to discourage people from smoking…even with a sophisticated name like “Opaque Couché” (translated “Laying Opaque” in French).

It’s not a conclusion that was met with ease. Discovered in 2012 and three months of market research, Victoria Parr and her team who lead the project at GfK Bluemoon said: ‘‘We didn’t want to create attractive, aspirational packaging designed to win customers...Instead our role was to help our client reduce demand, with the ultimate aim to minimise use of the product.’’

Cigarette packs will be ‘‘drab dark brown’’ with large graphic health warnings and the manufacturers’ brand names written in a small generic font — just big enough to read from a distance of approximately one metre.

How Researchers Decided Pantone 448C Would Be The Least Appealing to Smokers…

Over 1000 regular smokers aged 16 to 64, research participants feedback to GfK Bluemoon stated that ‘‘drab dark brown’’ packaging had the lowest appeal and looked like they would contain the lowest quality cigarettes overall, which would cause the most harm.

Other colours considered were beige, white, dark grey, lime green and mustard. But none of those held a candle Pantone 448C in terms of its ability to ‘‘minimise appeal’’ and ‘‘maximise perceived harm’’.

A range of dark browns came close runners up but was eventually ruled out because it was perceived by some as ‘‘rich and upmarket’’. As did medium olive which was also later discarded because it was too similar to ‘‘gold’’ and therefore appeared too prestige.

When asked to describe Pantone 448C, the public used ‘tar’, ‘dirty’ or ‘death’ without many positive adjectives.

Could 448C Ever Become Fashionable?

We wouldn’t expect to find Pantone 448C on desirable items any time soon due to being labelled “The ugliest colour” in the media.

Packaging in some cases has evolved to double up as a fashionable item and 448C has an uncanny likeness to military items – a trend that has skyrocketed since the 1960’s. That being said, the disdained ‘Olive Green’ has the potential to showcase a “versatile, retro and stealthy” appearance to many products and packaging.

Using the right finishing touches and printing methods on Opaque Couché, we think “Ugly” has never looked so good!


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