The Beauty of Uncool: ripple+ and Coco Capitán’s LOSER Confront Smoking Stigma

Screenshot 2023 08 17 at 6.58.14 PM

Smoking has been a part of human civilization for centuries and has become deeply ingrained in the social and cultural fabric of societies worldwide. Despite the well-known health hazards associated with smoking, it has remained a ubiquitous practice that has endured through the ages.

In the last decade, four groundbreaking studies added substantial weight to this body of knowledge, once again highlighting the urgency for action. A report published by epidemiologist Richard Peto discovered a markedly higher 12-year mortality rate in people with a smoking history than those who had never smoked.

However, there is hope despite the grim revelation – quitting smoking before age 40 reduces this excess mortality rate by an astonishing 90%. This shift from doom to optimism sets the stage for introducing a key player in this arena – ripple+. 

Meet ripple+ and LOSER

“Breaking free from the norm is our path to innovation and expansion,” said Lucie Beecham, co-founder of ripple+, at a leading industry event recently. That ethos is vividly encapsulated in the collaboration between ripple+, a pioneer in tobacco alternatives, and the renowned visual artist, Coco Capitán.

This collaboration between ripple+ and Capitán is both intriguing and unconventional. Their joint venture, the LOSER project, combines the commercial innovation of ripple+ with the distinct perspective of Capitán. LOSER is not merely a product or a marketing gimmick but a bold statement reflecting Capitán’s intention to label smokers as ‘losers.’

LOSER, a name deliberately designed to be unattractive and ‘uncool,’ underscores ripple+’s initiative to create an alternative to nicotine products. Far from aiming to shatter stereotypes or enable individuals to fully accept their identity, the shared vision of ripple+ and Coco Capitán appears to be more about challenging and addressing the issue of smoking through the slogan ‘LOSER, STOP LOSING’.”

Embracing Uncoolness, Shifting Perceptions

LOSER takes a bold stance against typical attractiveness and ‘cool’ measures. In stark contrast to the norm, it embodies an aesthetic of ‘uncool’ – an unrefined and authentic design, speaking volumes about the deceptive allure of smoking and nicotine addiction. 

LOSER aims to transform the public perception of smoking. It attempts to stir a significant shift in public attitudes towards nicotine addiction, particularly when smoking-related deaths are predicted to reach 8 million globally by 2023. The campaign has garnered various opinions and continues stimulating discussions and debates surrounding smoking and societal attitudes. 

The Artistic Expression

Driven by regulatory inspiration rather than traditional aesthetics, Capitán’s artistic choice for the project highlights a significant social message. Utilizing Pantone 448 C, informally known as the ‘ugliest colour in the world,’ the artist draws from UK and Europe Regulations for Tobacco Packaging and Advertising. This particular color is currently used in all tobacco product packaging in these regions, selected by health authorities to deter consumption and encourage quitting smoking.

Coco explains, “I wanted to implicitly invite nicotine consumers to switch to ripple+ as a better alternative, and remind them ‘smoking isn’t cool’ whether you smoke a traditional cigarette or a nicotine-free alternative.”

Coco’s approach to the Ripple+ campaign is both unconventional and strategic, guided by a desire to confront the conventional appeal often associated with smoking products. Her choices in design and imagery are rooted in subverting attractiveness, opting instead for a raw and discomforting visual language that mirrors the stark reality of nicotine addiction.

Using old mahogany as a visual motif represents a departure from the typical ‘fruity and ‘happy’ flavors associated with ripple+. Coco explains her choice as a pursuit of ‘visual discomfort,’ imagining ‘an apartment full of old mahogany furniture with a gloss finish.’

She intends to create a sensory experience that starkly contrasts the appealing names and flavors of existing products. She argues that making the alternative as unattractive as traditional cigarettes may encourage smokers to switch to a nicotine-free option.

Her decision to employ CGI over traditional photography further reinforces the campaign’s unsettling and impactful aesthetics. Inspired by the alarming images often found on cigarette boxes, Coco opted for AI imagery to create ‘unlikely situations’ that grab the viewer’s attention.

Unlike traditional photographs, these digitally-rendered scenes allowed her to build everything from scratch, creating visuals that could never exist in the analog world. In doing so, she aligns the entire visual strategy with a digitally created universe, from product and packaging to the broader campaign.

Her choices reflect not just a desire to engage smokers in a new conversation about their habits but also an artistic vision that challenges conventional approaches to design and advertising.

As ripple+ and Coco Capitán continue to champion their disruptive collaboration, the life-altering effects of embracing the ‘uncool’ becomes more evident.

LOSER, backed by ripple+’s commitment, encapsulates a spirit of change through dialogue initiation on the stigma around smoking and the promotion of wellness and self-expression. It challenges the status quo, refusing to conform to pre-established conventions. ripple+ and Coco Capitán are successfully paving the way for a new understanding of ‘uncool,’ one LOSER at a time.

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