Photographers, filmmakers, artists, and graphic designers all tend to know a thing or two about color. There is an emotional connection to different colors: Blue is soothing and red is powerful, for example. But when tasked with finding the ugliest color, where does the needle land when you spin the color wheel?
According to Australian market research firm, GfK, it lands on Pantone 448 C.
As reported by Visual News, the color — which has been described as “death,” “dirty,” and “tar” — will be used on cigarette packaging in an attempt to dissuade people from smoking. GfK spent three months on the project.
Wait a second: Isn’t it the job of a market research firm to find ways to better sell a product? Well, yes, normally — but GfK was contracted by the Australian government for this project, not the tobacco companies. “It had as its aim the antithesis of what is our usual objective,” said researcher Victoria Parr, in an interview with Australia’s Brisbane Times.
When it comes to trends in the use of color, none is more prevalent than the orange and blue treatments found in Hollywood cinema. The effect tends to be particularly noticeable in Michael Bay action films, although he is hardly the only offender. A similar trend has come about recently in electronic music, with album covers decorated in various shades of pink and blue.
Will Pantone 448 C start a new trend in color? Will we see its use spread to other products we should avoid? Or will it become the new vogue, embraced first by hipster smokers, but later celebrated by all those who would see the dreary color flown high as a banner of their resistance to healthy choices?
If art history is any indicator, it may have already been a much more popular color — and far less ugly — than we consider it now. The Hyperallergic blog has an interesting read on how some of the greatest works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” were created with close relatives of Pantone 448 C.
Clearly, beauty is still in the eye of the beholder.