Box Vox

packaging as content

August 12, 2011

Writing on Packages

Special-K

While technocentric consumer culture continues its swoon over QR code packaging and the branding dialogue that it supposedly opens, there may be another trend worth noting: writing on packages.

Earlier this Summer, I noticed this huge speech bubble on the back of a box of Special K and I thought, “What on earth is that for?”

Reading the back of the cereal box, I learned that the big blank area was part of their “What will you gain when you lose?” campaign — (i.e.: when you lose weight). Consumers are invited to answer that question by uploading a picture of themselves with what they were hoping to gain—their “goal”—written on their box of Special K.

Gainers

The gallery page of photos on the Special K website discloses that “some of the images are of paid participants.” I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that the women seeking to gain “Sass” and “Pep” may be in that category. (See also: Pep Brands Packaging)

Of course with any interactive marketing push of this type, some consumers may push back, as illustrated by The Restless Mouse’s message in the lower right hand corner. Not the sort of affirmation Special K was seeking, but a more meaningful show of strength, perhaps, than the word “strength” compliantly written on a cereal box muscle.

Another example of the writing-on-packages trend is the Budweiser Light “Write-On Label”—here the campaign doesn’t require online consumer feedback, although they do allude to “social networking”…

(More about “Write-On Labels, etc., after the fold…)


We’ve commented in the past about how packaging might be evolving into a new form of media, but as direct and accessible as writing on a package may seem, most of the brands experimenting with this idea still feel the need to reference the internet and social media.

292587-Etch_on_label Are there any, more compelling reasons why consumers might want to write on a product package? (I mean, aside from “sharing” their feelings about the brand.)

One of the more reasonable reasons touched upon in the Bud Light commercials, was the idea that a beverage container could be personalized.

The Name It Label (patent pending) is another personalization option for retail beverage labels, with the added feature of unlimited rewrites:

Consumers often desire to personalize a beverage container with their own mark to avoid confusion regarding which drink is theirs… A consumer simply needs to put pressure on the label with their finger to write a custom message, simialr to the Magic Slate toy we all grew up with!

Best of all, NAME IT also features an erase mechanism. The consumer simply needs to peel back the top layer of plastic to erase their message. Then, they can write a new one. It’s simple and the label can be used over and over again.

(via: Packaging Digest)

There was also a 1992 Patent granted to Charles A. Smolinsli and assigned to Kraft General Foods for “Method of Making a Self-Erasing, Reusable Writing Surface on Packaging Structure”— (another example of vintage “Magic Slate” technology applied to packaging.)
1992-Kraft-Patent

In this case, the idea was to use the package surface for drawing as well as for writing.

I don’t whether Kraft ever produced any packaging of this type, but at a time when many brands are paying lip service to “consumer expression” leaving extra space on the label for doodling may be an approach that some brands will embrace. For parents this could mean that they may soon be storing their children’s artwork inside their fridge instead of hanging them up on the outside.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design