How the world’s ‘ugliest color’ is being used to save lives

Posted at 1:39 PM, Jun 13, 2016

In 2012, a marketing research company determined Pantone 448 C (aka “opaque couché”) was the world’s ugliest color—and it’s been used to try to save lives ever since.

Per the Guardian, GfK surveyed 1,000 smokers back then to find out which hue turned them off the most, and this Pantone pick—a greenish-brown blend that survey participants said reminded them of “death” and “tar”—emerged the winner.

Time notes the agency had been commissioned by the Australian government to find a color so repellent it could be used on cigarette packaging to discourage people from lighting up.

The new color was found to have the most ability to “minimize appeal” and “maximize perceived harm” and was implemented on plain cigarette packs with health warnings across Australia, the Brisbane Times reported at the time.

Early results are now in, and it appears the color that CNN describes as “sludge-like” may have made an impact: Cigarette sales have fallen, and now other countries such as the UK, France, and Ireland are following suit, per Metro.

So what is it about the color that makes it such an effective sales deterrent? A color consultant tells CNN it may be the strong resemblance to, well, poop.

But not everyone’s on board with trashing opaque couché. Pantone sniffs to the Guardian, “At the Pantone Color Institute, we consider all colors equally,” noting that the color’s “deep, rich earth tones” make it a oft-chosen pick for sofas.

But perhaps the saddest entity of all? The long-silent Pantone 448 C Twitter account, which back in 2012 reacted to the news of its denigrated status by tweeting, “I used to feature so much in all your 70s couches, curtains, and wallpapers. What did I do to deserve this?”

This article originally appeared on Newser: How the World’s ‘Ugliest Color’ Is Being Used to Save Lives

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