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All articles written by David Simpson unless otherwise attributed. Ideas and items for News Analysis should be sent to: d.simpson@iath.org

Slovenia: new brand claims to be “No Brand”

Earlier this year, advertisements appeared at popular tobacco stands in the capital, Ljubljana, as a new cigarette brand, called No Brand, went on sale. The ads said, “My Brand” and “Be true to yourself, there are already too many others” and apart from being seen at retail outlets, they also appeared in a widely distributed free newspaper, Dobro Jutro. The ads were commissioned and the cigarettes produced by a company called Fumus, owned by two Slovenians with existing connections to the tobacco industry. It was immediately apparent that the ads were associated with tobacco products, as they parodied the design of pack health warnings, using black lettering within a black border on a white background.

On the website of Fumus (http://www.fumus.si), an initial question, “Fumus—Who are we?” leads to two declarations: “I am 18 or over 2” and “I can think for myself”. Appropriate responses to each question open the main website, containing statements such as, “We are professionals in the field of tobacco products. We are bold, we despise labelling and branding. Unlike the multinationals we do not impose brands on people by aggressive marketing, as we do not aim to patronise consumers by telling them how they should act and what they should think. We stand by the supreme quality of our products.”

Continuing in a way already recognisable as aimed at young people, the text develops the myth of individualism being acquired via a cigarette brand, with statements about there still being “…room for uniqueness. We believe that the people have had enough of others telling them what to be. We believe that each individual has enough creativity to invent his or her own brand.” It …

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