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Stand-out 'PACs' win recognition

When Big Rock Brewery decided to redesign its packaging late last year, the Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based company wanted to build brand awareness and develop a cohesive look for its nine specialty brews.
FILED IN:  Package design  > Structural
What the company wasn't expecting was an award from the Packaging Assn. of Canada (Willowdale Ontario Canada). But that's just what it earned.

PAC honored Big Rock Brewery with the gold award for its 23 edge crush test (ECT) corrugated fiberboard carton that holds six 341-mL (111/2-oz) bottles (right). The E-flute board is decorated with a preprinted paper liner offset-printed in five colors by Lithotech (Scarborough Ontario Canada). The liner graphics designed by Parallel Strategies (Calgary Alberta Canada) represent a radical change.

"We decided to redo our entire line to give the beers more shelf presence" says Big Rock's Wanda Guba marketing coordinator. Guba says many customers knew one or two of its products but didn't always recognize other beers in the Big Rock line. The specialty beers carry names such as Grasshöpper Magpie and Warthog Ale.

"The box decoration became more consumer-friendly" she says. "We made the Big Rock logo more prominent and gave the products a family look with similar designs for each box except we vary the color to match the label."

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Consumer appeal was added through two primary changes. One was by incorporating a color swatch on the front panel of the box indicating the color of the beer. The second change was to add a short description of the beer. Guba says these changes reduce consumers' anxiety over trying a different beer.

The redesign of the package has gained consumer attention and after three months the company saw sales increase according to Guba though she didn't provide specific numbers. "It was well-received in new markets and [the redesign] gave us a stronger brand presence in the market place" Guba says. The beers are available nationally in Canada and retail for around C$8.50 (US$5.71).

Screen-printed bottles

PAC's Chairman's Choice award and a silver award for graphics were given to Kitchen Connoisseur for its line of glass-bottled gourmet oils and vinegars (top right). These 375-mL (12.6-oz) bottles are screen-printeded in two colors. Sheena McLeod president of the Puslinch Ontario Canada-based company says she wanted to create a contemporary package to position these products as collectibles or gifts. "I wanted something that stood out as being unique and different" she says.

With the decoration designed by Frank Gottvald creative director for Design Partners (Toronto Ontario Canada) the Kitchen Connoisseur bottles are dark-brown glass traditionally used for ice wine. The dark color protects the delicate dessert wines from light and McLeod wanted the same protection for the vinegars and oils. The printer Wine Bottle & Packaging (Port Credit Ontario Canada) had to develop special inks so the printing would meet Kitchen Connoisseur's expectations. "Normally the bottles are printed in 10-karat gold ink and white" Gottvald says. "Wine Bottle and Packaging developed colors that use a considerable amount of white in them so they are opaque enough to stand out from the dark background."

McLeod says she's pleased with the final decoration. "The first time we introduced them was at a gift show and we won best booth at the show" she says. "I'm sure the bottles had a big impact on us winning." Released in August '98 the four products are available nationally in Canada and retail from C$12 (US$8.06) to C$15 (US$10.08).

Honoring flexibles

Maxair Vapour Blast Gum by Adams Brands won a gold award in the flexible packaging category. The gum package (below) designed by Glenn A. Davis & Associates Ltd. (Mississauga Ontario Canada) competes in a product category dominated by small packages marketed in retail outlets where shelf space is at a premium. Because of this the Toronto Ontario Canada-based confectionery company needed a package that would instantly attract consumers.

The flexible package consists of 40# holoprismatic metallized paper extrusion-laminated to 7-micron foil. The structure is converted and surface-printed by algroup/Lawson Mardon Packaging (Etobicoke Ontario Canada).

Graham Kaufmann brand manager at Adams Brands says the company chose the holoprism material to catch the consumer's eye. "We thought the holoprism package would leap off the shelf" Kaufmann says. "We did consumer testing and the packaging tested better than blister packs which are the traditional packaging for this type of gum." The package shows a piece of the gum followed by a "swoosh" representing the flavor of the gum. This and the name of the gum are printed on the holoprism material.

Released in November '98 and retailing for C89¢ (US60¢) the gum is selling beyond projections and Kaufmann attributes this in part to the packaging. "The gum is meant to deliver a rush of exhilaration when it's chewed and the packaging graphics speak to that rush with the 'swoosh' and shiny material" Kaufmann adds.

The Packaging Assn. of Canada presented 132 awards at its National Packaging Competition in Toronto this June.

According to the PAC the awards are designed to raise the international profile of Canada's package designers and manufacturers by showcasing their contributions to the marketing distribution and sale of packaged products. Next year will mark PAC's 50th anniversary.

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