NFC functionality comes to cereal carton

Battle Creek, MI-based Kellogg Co. and Nintendo of America have teamed up on an application of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology on a limited release of Super Mario Cereal.

NFC functionality makes cereal carton fun for gamers.
NFC functionality makes cereal carton fun for gamers.

The bag-in-box carton, supplied by Graphic Packaging International, is conventional enough. But applied to the carton’s inside back panel in the manner of a pressure-sensitive label (see photo) is an NFC tag that causes the carton to function as an amiibo card. In other words, those playing the Super Mario Odyssey game can tap the specified area of the cereal carton to receive, says Nintendo of America, “gold coins or a life-up heart in the game.”

The limited-edition cartons began hitting store shelves around December 11. By December 22 it was almost impossible to find a carton in a retail outlet, though they started to show up on eBay for as much as $22 each.

NFC functionality is not new to packaging, but typically it has been applied to products like spirits or wines with price points far higher than an 8.4-oz carton of cereal that goes for about $3.00. That’s what makes this Kellogg’s application notable. Did Nintendo chip in somehow? The only comment that Redmond, WA-based Nintendo is sharing comes from Tom Prata, Nintendo America’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, in the firm’s December 1 press release: “This powered-up partnership with Kellogg’s is another exciting way for us to expand the Nintendo brand in unique and creative ways.” Another possibility is that Kellogg’s financed the NFC functionality by redirecting money from other advertising channels such as FSIs (Free Standing Inserts) in local or national newspapers. But Kellogg’s isn’t saying.

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