Chris Snowdon has - via the good offices of the Adam Smith Institute - published a paper on the lunatic idea of introducing plain packaging for cigarettes. It is an excellent read filled with real facts, references to real research and a commitment to liberty.
In addition Conservative Home have given Chris some space to set out his argument - it's certainly worth reading the comments thread. No sign of much support for the idea.
For my part I wrote about this - from the perspective of a professional and experienced marketer:
Firstly, brands do not act to recruit customers to a given product – we choose to buy the product and then we select the brand. Nobody starts buying bread because they saw a Warburton’s ad – they buy bread because, well, they want bread! What the brand provides is a heuristic – a short cut, if you will – allowing the consumer to make a choice quickly and confidently. What we do know is that it is the search for a benefit that makes consumers choose to buy a product rather than the shininess of the brand presentation. Or is you prefer: we buy bread because we want to eat it not because the advert featured a brass band playing chunks from the New World Symphony!Secondly, packaging serves two purposes – identification and appeals to impulse. In the first instance we put our product into easily identified packaging as part of that heuristic, as a quick means of identifying our particular version of a given product. And, where purchase is often impulse driven, we use packaging to make the product stand out from other similar products. So yes packaging can assist purchase – but only where it isn’t a considered purchase.
The rest of this piece can be read here - suffice it to say that the scale of ignorance about the purpose of brands and the point of packaging beggar's belief. Anyone would think they had an agenda!