Ok, so I was actually able to use my college library’s subscription to lexisnexis to find the articles. There are actually a lot but they’re quite short (I guess that’s to be expected from a newspaper article). If anyone is interested in the other topics I mentioned let me know and I’ll try to find it and post it up here.
Here’s the Carrolls Number One cigarette packaging article:
Sunday Times (London)
August 27, 2000, Sunday
BYLINE: Lisa Godson
LENGTH: 330 words
PJ Carroll & Co Ltd, the Dundalk cigarette company, has been redesigning the packaging of its Carrolls Number 1 brand. The result shows what can go wrong when you tamper with good design.
The most obvious difference from other brands is that, instead of being sealed with clear plastic film, the packets are hidden inside a printed wrapper - a splat pack - that makes it look as if the box has been ripped open. Perhaps the trompe l’oeil is meant as a joke, albeit a bad one, as if the smoker was so desperate that he could wait no longer.
Surreality and dubious humour are not new to tobacco marketing: legislation forces much cigarette advertising to be oblique, such as the “scene setting” of Marlboro ads. Carrolls’ approach is less sophisticated.
The packaging has also changed. This is a pity, as the old Carrolls Number1 box was almost a design classic, using sans-serif lettering, semicircles and ovals, and the iconic colours of red and white that appear on brands such as Marlboro and Coca-Cola.
Those colours are still used, but the packet has been rejigged, apparently to appeal to more affluent smokers, by using gold bordering and softening the central panel by making it more of a swirl.
The new typefaces are an incongruous mixture of the playful and the formal. “Carrolls” is rendered as if handwritten, but the joined-up upper case lettering amounts to neither a signature nor a tag. The “Number 1” is in a mongrel calligraphy-script typeface chosen to add to the luxury feel of the new packet, which one might also say has been feminised.
In this sense, the redesign seems to be targeting a particular type of smoker. Consumer anger has prompted much of the industry to leave its packaging alone, lest it be accused of trying to appeal to teenagers or other groups.
As such, Carrolls has scored a double own goal, scrapping a gender-neutral and age-neutral design for one that supposedly, but badly, appeals to affluent women.
I couldn’t find a photo of the packaging they were referring to but this is what I think the current version looks like: