"Dirty tar death." NICE!
What’s your favorite color?
While the lifelong most popular colors are your run-of-the-mill blues, greens, reds, and purples, lately other shades have been coming into vogue and dominating the worlds of fashion and interior design. Black and grey are everywhere, Pantone’s 2017 color of the was this springy shade of yellow-green, and fashion is getting ever bolder.
But what about the colors we don’t like to talk about? Or the colors you would never dream of painting your walls?
Meet Pantone 448 C, also known as “opaque couché.” P.S.: “couché” is French for layer or, more appropriately in this case, diaper.
Pantone 448 C
Pantone 448 C is probably not your color of choice when you go to give a room a fresh coat of paint.
“Opaque couché” is a “drab, dark brown” that has been described as “tar,” “dirty,” and even “death,” and it gives the uncanny sense of looking at something putrid. It’s also been said to remind viewers of lung tar and baby poop.
But even the world’s ugliest color can amount to something great, and that’s exactly what happened a few years back.
In 2012, the Australian government hired market research company GfK Bluemoon to carry out a massive study to find the most repulsive color imaginable.
Typically, a marketing firm wants to find the combination of features that will help maximize a product’s sales. GfK had to do exactly the opposite.
The company interviewed some 1,000 smokers to test out which color they found the most revolting, and the winner was Pantone 448 C.
Little did the smokers know they’d be seeing much more of the noxious shade.
After determining that 448 C could simultaneously “minimize appeal” and “maximize perceived harm,” the Australian government mandated that it become the new color for “plain packaging” on cigarette cartons. Soon, the unlikely shade adorned shelves and tobacco stores everywhere.
It’s really pretty ingenious when you think about it. While everyone has their vices, we can take a step back to realize that smoking is not doing anybody any good—not the smokers themselves, but also not those around them. Governments and organizations around the world have rallied for years to find a way to cut down on cigarette sales and the number of smokers, but it seems like Australia’s plan may just have hit the nail on the head.