Box Vox

packaging as content

November 24, 2008

Mountain Dew Whiskey

Mountndewwhiskey“Mountain Dew” whiskey from a 1902 mail-order leaflet. (From Duke Libraries Digital Collection.)

Mountain Dew, the soda pop, has traveled a long way from its early 1940s origins. Younger consumers may have missed its 1960s Beverly Hillbillies-style roll-out with Pepsi’s “Yahooooo! Mountain Dew! It’ll tickle yer innards!” campaign. I was 8 in 1964 and, although I remember that campaign, the humorous references to moonshine went over my head.

(See the full mail-order whiskey ad and a Mountain Dew collection, after the jump)

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November 20, 2008

Paradigm Pump Packaging

Paradigmboxes

I’ve recently upgraded my insulin pump[1] and related diabetic paraphernalia and, although I’m pretty jazzed about it, this being box vox, we must begin with a packaging critique. First of all, MiniMed/Medtronic’s brand name—“Paradigm”—is an embarrassment.

paradigm — pretentious and overused term for a way of thinking. Often used with the erroneous assumption that “paradigms” are mutually exclusive, and often assuming that one paradigm is inherently superior to all others.

from Bjarne Stroustrup’s C++ Glossary

My second issue: why are these medical devices being packaged in retail-style boxes? Insulin pumps are obtained through a doctor’s prescription and only then if your insurance company deems it a medical necessity.

It’s not really the sort of item that you pick up on a shelf of your local pharmacy, read the product features on the box and then decide whether or not you’d like to purchase it.

But, okay. Let’s talk about the brand promise. These 3 boxes (for insulin pump, 10 glucose sensors, and a wireless transmitter) are all parts of the same product-line/system. All three appear to be making a lifestyle promise about eating sweets. The glucose sensor box shows a young woman happily eating cake. The insulin pump box shows another woman eating something in a bowl with strawberries. And the transmitter box—(the one that I most identify with)—shows us a slim, grey-haired guy kicking back in an Eames-style chair, but also shows a smaller picture of the same guy grinning at an ice cream cone. Clearly eating sweets is big deal for us diabetics. MiniMed’s brand promise, therefore, is something along the lines of, “Diabetics: let them eat cake.”

(More about the boxes and what they contain, after the jump…)

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November 18, 2008

Bean Can

BeancanPhoto from Rooneg’ Flickr Photostream from a 2007 “Canstruction” event in Chicago.

Canstruction is a charity competition (held in various cities) in which local architectects and designers build sculptural structures out of full cans of food. The sculptures are subsequently dismantled and the canned food is then distributed to local food banks and pantries.

Besides the pointillist pleasures[1] of seeing large things made from separate small pieces, I like the direct logic of making the food itself the star of these events. Some of the sculptures are bit fanciful for my tastes, but I really like this “bean of cans” made from cans of beans. (It would be nice if supermarkets could arrange similar displays to communicate the contents of their own canned good stacks.) I also appreciate how competing brands of beans are seen here working together, as one, to form a single huge sculptural bean.

(Another Canstruction sculpture that I approve of, after the jump…)

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November 15, 2008

Roadside Packaging

BarrelTeapot-2
On left: a postcard image of “The Pickle Barrel House,” originally built as a summer cottage (later restored—see: here); on right: The Teapot Dome Service Station[1] built in 1922. (Old fashioned oil cans resemble teapots, but there is another connection.)

Within the category of roadside representational architecture, also known as “programmatic” or “mimetic”—(buildings designed to look like something else)—is a subset of buildings that are designed to look like product packages. On the one hand, causing drivers to double-take and giving customers that fun, Lilliputian feeling. On the other hand, trying to communicate what’s for sale within. (usually)

Not only do these types of structures visually resemble packages, the whole idea of architectural branding is often expressed in terms of packaging:

“The special packaging of place is a form of commodification. Places are created to appeal to specific appetites defined not only in terms of food, but also in terms of environment. Consumed is a place package—food, service and entertainment.”

Fast Food By John A. Jakle, Keith A. Sculle

Milkcanbottle
On left: Denver-based Little Man Ice Cream milk can. (See construction photo here); on right: Hood Milk Bottle[2] concession at The Boston Children’s Museum. (See a renovation photo here and a history of the structure here.)

Moxiebottlestand
The Moxie bottle (on right), originally constructed for a 1907 trade show, later enjoyed a long tenure as a concession stand at the Pine Island Amusement Park in Manchester, NH. In 1919 it was moved and served as a home (on left) until 1999. The full history of this structure can be read here.

(More packaged places, after the jump…)

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November 10, 2008

Mr. Peanut Jar

MrpeanutjarAlthough I am a compulsive consumer of nuts, I don’t much like dry roasted nuts. Clearly, I bought this because of the package. (I’ve already stipulated to a fondness for Mr. Peanut.) The jar includes an eccentrically shaped flange in order to make the brim of Mr. Peanut’s top hat. When I’ve finished eating these [unfortunately dry roasted] peanuts, I want to see what the jar looks like without it’s full-body shrink sleeve label.

Meanwhile, it’s been recently pointed out to me how Mr. Peanut’s supposedly elegant, old-school tipping-of-the-hat gesture with pinky and index finger extended  might actually be an encoded satanic salute!

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

November 9, 2008

Packaging goes Postal

New2316_2

I recently came upon these turn-of-the-century envelopes with illustrations of product packaging. (And what is an envelope, after all, if not a type of package?) I’€™m no philatelist, but looking into it a little bit, I’€™ve learned that, in the world of stamp collecting, envelopes are called “€œcovers”€ and that the 25 covers pictured here are called “€œillustrated advertising covers.”€ Moreover, the return address & promotional graphics in each of these, is referred to as the “corner card.”€

It used to be that most letters were “€œfolded self-mailers”€ folded up and sealed with a blob of sealing wax. When did letters acquire this type of cover packaging?

“In 1845 an Act of Congress abolished postage rates based on the number of sheets used in forming a letter, thus began the widespread use of envelopes to send letters.  Until that time envelopes were rarely used since they constituted an extra sheet of paper, thus a higher cost. Before long merchants began to use envelopes to advertise their products…”

from ebay’€™s guide to Advertising and Illustrated Covers

All of these images come from last year’€™s H.R. Harmer online auction catalog: The “Sapphire” Collection of Illustrated Advertising Covers.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

(18 more, after the jump…)

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November 8, 2008

Collapsible Carbonated Soft Drink Bottle

Swervebottle2
From Swerve, Inc., an intriguing concept for keeping large bottles of soda fizzy after they’ve been opened: collapsing CSD bottles. As explained by Swerve’s Managing Partner, Robert Croft:

“Conventional thought is that the opening and closing of the package causes the soda to go flat. While this is a contributing factor, the main problem lies in the volume of headspace that is created in the package as the product is consumed. Carbon dioxide quickly migrates to the vacant space, causing the beverage to lose its sparkle.

“Ideally, the package should reduce in size as the product is consumed to minimize vacant space inside the bottle.”

Swerve’s idea involves a telescoping “stem” that you ratchet down with each serving, in order to keep the “headspace” (described above) at a minimum. If I’m interpreting it correctly, the way this would work is: you pour yourself a serving of soda, and then push down on the top of the bottle, collapsing it to a new height—(appropriate for the amount of soda remaining in the bottle)—and then you replace the cap.

(Sort of reminiscent of those bendable straws.)

(via: Shelf Impact)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

November 6, 2008

Hy-Jen Toothpaste Tube

HyjendetailAnother vintage anthro-pack from a J. Walter Thompson ad—(circa: sometime around 1906?)—that I found on the Duke Libraries Digital Collection site.

(See the whole ad after the jump…)   

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November 6, 2008

Mundet Soda Bottle

Mundet2_2
Like Jarritos, Mundet is a fruit-flavored Mexican soda. Unlike Jarritos, they have so far retained their ACL “applied color label.”

Original Sidral Mundet[1] is a red apple soda, but more recently they came out with this less sweet, green apple version. (See both together here)

Appreciate the spare label design, but—(like this guy)—I would really like to understand the logo shape. Is it representational? The lip of a bottle? An open mouth with a tongue? An apple basket? Or is it just an abstract, graphic device? (If anyone knows, please step up!)

Like other Mexican sodas, Mundet has earned a loyal following for its use of cane sugar (rather than corn syrup) among other reasons.

“Sidral Mundet was first bottled in 1902 by Don Arturo Mundet, who produced the cider-flavored beverage. Basing Sidral Mundet on the "limonada" or "gaseosa" drinks that were popular in Mexico at the turn of the 20th Century, he utilized the pasteurization technique to keep the drink sterile in the bottling process. The drink has been renowned in Mexico for its nourishing and hydrating abilities and has sometimes been used as a home remedy for stomach aches.

“In 1988, Sidral Mundet was introduced to the US through Novamex and has since become a popular soft drink in the Hispanic American market.”

Wikipedia

Arturoorangemundet

On left: a bust of Don Arturo Mundet; on right evidence that there was once a glass bottle of Orange Mundet soda.

In 2000 Mundet and other Mexican soda bottlers accused multinational Coca Cola FEMSA of unfair trade practices.

The Mexican government, through the Federal Commission on Competition (CFC), has rejected exclusive contracts that prohibit a Coca-Cola seller from selling another brand of soft drink. In 2000, Pepsi-Co accused Coca-Cola of monopolistic practices in the Mexican soft drink market. The local soft drink makers Aga and Mundet joined the accusation before the authorities. Coca-Cola was reproved by the CFC for forcing agreements of exclusivity at points of sale. It was then calculated that of the 900,000 points of sale in Mexico, Coca-Cola had exclusivity in 100,000. It also maintained 41 exclusivity contracts with companies that would only distribute Coca-Cola products…  Adriana Medina Balladares, sub-director of corporation communication of Coca-Cola Mexico indicated, "It is important for us to have permanent presence of our brand in places where there are great concentrations of people or in establishments where consumption is important."

from CIEPAC web site

The following year, Coca Cola FEMSA bought out Mundet.

Mexico’s Mundet Cabo family sold 100 percent of its money-losing soft drink business Mundet to FEMSA… The value of the transaction was less than 20 million pesos.

According to the report, Mundet head Arturo Zindel had intended to sell only a stake in the 99-year-old company, in return for an injection of much-needed capital, but at the last minute agreed to sell the whole company.

Several years ago, Coca Cola… considered buying Mundet, but eventually backed out because of its poor financial health.

from Bankrupt.com

(Some business about bottle caps, after the jump…)

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November 3, 2008

The Package of the Future (Circa 1918)

FuturepackdetailDetail from a four-page J. Walter Thompson Company “House Ad” from 1918. (See all 4 pages on the Duke Libraries Digital Collection site.)

Always interesting to see what they considered futuristic in the olden days. Running 4 pages long with lots of portfolio examples, this is ad appears to follow the old school ad rule: “the more you tell, the more you sell.” 

My favorite line: “To the person who has not yet used the product, the package is the product.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design