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Stylewatch: Is Pantone 448C really the ugliest colour in the world?

16/06/2016 The Guardian

Look at this colour. Is it green or brown? And how does it make you feel, given that it has been voted the ugliest colour in the world? This sensory gift arrives courtesy of an Australian research and marketing project aimed at discouraging people from smoking.

The agency GfK asked a thousand smokers which colour they found most visually offensive, with a view to covering cigarette packets with it. Pantone 448C, or opaque couché – which also happens to be my stage name – came out top. Respondents associated the colour with “dirty”, “death”, and “tar”.

Plain cigarette packaging has arrived, but will it reduce smoking?

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The colour was deployed on plain cigarette packaging in Australia, with health warnings, and early signs are that sales of the noxious weed have fallen. In May, compulsory plain packaging for cigarettes, using the same Pantone colour, came into effect in the UK, too.

Pantone is widely known for making or breaking colours, but is keen to state that no colour is more beautiful or ugly than the next. Naturally, the ...

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... company was not thrilled at the choice of its tone for the packaging: “At the Pantone Color Institute, we consider all colours equally,” explained Leatrice Eiseman, executive director. There was, she said, “no such thing as the ugliest colour”. Rather, 448C was associated with “deep, rich earth tones”, popular on sofas and shoes and other things that might be found in a house.

It’s also a colour you might find on the catwalk. Such as this parka. Or this split ribbed dress. Or even half of this jumpsuit. Like Eiseman, fashion sees beauty in ugliness, too. The irony.

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