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Admiral Iced Tea achieves sophistication

Exquisite printing on cans brings an ultra-premium tea into the ready-to-drink tea arena.
FILED IN:  Package design  > Structural
A good category audit can uncover opportunities that might not seem readily apparent when the goal is to break into a crowded category with a new product. But that’s just what Hansen Beverage Co., Corona, CA, did when it wanted to introduce Admiral Iced Tea, and was mulling options to position the product amid a shelf full of competitors in ready-to-drink tea.

The audit pointed to a clear direction. “In ready-to-drink tea, everything is premium and in PET or glass bottles,” says Dylan Spencer, Admiral Iced Tea Brand Manager. “Our idea was to bring an ultra-premium item to that subsegment of the ready-to-drink iced tea aisle in a 24-oz can with a worldly design and a premium look.”

Hansen Beverage, working with its supply chain, developed a stunningly decorated, two-piece, 24-oz can, from Rexam Beverage Can America. Hansen Beverage selected a can because there was only one existing ready-to-drink tea brand in a can.

Admiral Iced Tea is made from tea leaves sourced in India, England, and the Pacific Rim, which served as the inspiration for the exquisitely detailed graphic design and razor-sharp printing on the cans. The brand’s core audience is 15- to 35-year-old consumers.

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“They’re saying they want something more sophisticated,” Spencer explains. “Some of the more sophisticated students will see these cans and say, ‘Gee, this is a much better value, at 99 cents, based on the look of the can.’ Tea is worldly, and if our tea comes from other places, let’s let our consumer know that.”

The multi-faceted graphic design features fine-detailed drawings of tea leaves, raspberries, and a globe, depending on the product variety, and also a very detailed brand logo. This depth of graphic presentation required skillful printing to produce the sharp lines that deliver high-quality images, notes Steve Clark, Hansen Beverage’s Director of Marketing Services.

Hansen Beverage turned to VN Graphics to prepare the art files for printing and assure that the images would not lose sharpness during the ink application. With so much detail to print in the graphics area of the can, Clark explains, press operators had to apply just the right amount of pressure during the ink application. If the rubber plates applied too much pressure on the can surface during inking, the dots would get bigger and create a muddy look.

The cans are dry-offset-printed in six colors. Working with Inx International, Hansen Beverage opted for a white base coat and a top layer of varnish to intensify the other colors. Printed cans then go to a contract filler for filling.

Admiral Iced Tea is rolling out in stores in the Pacific Northwest and in the Southwest.

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