February 17, 2011
The recent negative publicity surrounding the Fashion Week introduction of Diet Pepsi’s new “skinny” can design just goes to show how closely we identify with our product packaging. (See: Package as Metaphor—Body)
While it’s generally understood how photographs of emaciated fashion models might have a negative impact on a person’s body image, it’s surprising, perhaps, that a skinny soda can could be deemed a similarly harmful influence.
What did Diet Pepsi do to provoke such a backlash? It wasn’t that they used their new can shape to suggest that drinking Diet Pepsi might make a person skinnier, but in suggesting that their “slim, attractive new can” was an apt metaphor for “beautiful, confident women” in general.
The skinnier can shape is nothing new and has been in use overseas for a while. The Australian Coke can (above, right) is not a diet drink, but it has the same narrow shape. Its Coke-bottle-figure pictorial logo, however, has long been associated with a certain non-anorexic body type. (from: Roberta W.B.’s Flickr Photostream)
And diet product packages that emulate body types is also nothing new—as the 1963 Slim-Mates bottle, below, will attest. (from RoadsidePictures’ Flickr Photostream)
Beach Packaging Design