Best of Show: Hub Folding Box's Crowning Achievement
Editor's Note: The results of the 2018 packagePRINTING Excellence Awards are in! Click here to see the full list of winning entries.
Shipping in wood to be split and burned is not a part of most packaging jobs. But when Diageo was in need of a folding carton design for its limited edition Crown Royal Texas Mesquite Canadian whiskey, stock imagery just wouldn’t do.
As Zane Peterson, director of creative services for Hub Folding Box, explains, the initial design concepts that arrived at the Mansfield, Mass.-based converter utilized wood grain graphics that could not be passed off as real mesquite. So, before Hub Folding Box began its process of printing and converting the folding carton, Peterson says Diageo’s London-based design agency went back to the drawing board.
“They actually did a full-on photo shoot with split mesquite wood and burned it on site,” Peterson says. “They took some without it burned and some with it burned, and combined those together to create the final smoked look to the mesquite. We worked with them really closely on our end to color correct to make sure everything was looking natural.”
With graphics in place that would provide the baseline for an authentic looking carton, Peterson says Hub Folding Box got to work, utilizing its extensive printing and embellishment capabilities to enhance the folding carton even further. He explains that with more than 30 years as a Hub Folding Box Client, Diageo has developed a strong trust in the converter, and gives the Hub team the freedom to push their designs in exciting new directions.
For this carton, Peterson explains Hub made it a priority to appeal to multiple consumer senses, which meant finding ways to extend the authenticity of the mesquite graphics beyond visual elements. In addition to the embossing, debossing and coatings that provide an intriguing tactile experience, Hub Folding Box added a smoke scent to each carton, enticing the consumer with the mesquite wood experience before the whiskey is even opened.
“You think about those things and you adjust as you’re going through the trials to make sure you have just the right amount, so that no matter where they touch, there’s a little bit of that scent,” Peterson says. “It just kind of activates that anticipation of ‘Wait, I smell smoke already. What’s going on? This is so cool.’”
The combination of the pristine graphics, printed on a Koenig & Bauer Rapida 106, the smoke scent and the additional embellishments, led to the folding carton being named Best of Show in the 32nd annual packagePRINTING Excellence Awards. According to the judging panel, the multi-sensory impact of the carton helped it stand out as the best among a field of entries consisting of all packaging types and printing processes.
“They definitely pulled off the aged, branded wood as if it was burned into the box,” said Bill Enright, an application engineer for Mark Andy, and a member of the judging panel.
While the printing of the wood grain graphics and addition of the smoke scent make the carton immediately stand out, Peterson says Hub made a concerted effort to focus on all of the details to take the carton to the next level. For example, he explains that in a retail setting with less than optimum lighting, the debossed text may not have the desired effect. So, he explains Hub enhanced the debossing with printed white and dark edges around the text to accentuate the effect, no matter the lighting conditions.
“[There were] little things like the barcode at the bottom, which was [originally] just a regular square, but we put the barcode in the outline of Texas just to add a little visual interest to the carton,” Peterson says. “Printing the inside was an idea that we had as well. If you’re going to have the outside of the carton printed and you open it up and it’s white on the inside, you lose a little bit of the wow factor.”
Peterson says that while he was thrilled with how the final project came out, what makes him particularly proud about this folding carton was the positive response the Hub team received from Diageo. But the true mark of success, Peterson says, came when he learned that the product was selling very well, particularly in Texas and the surrounding southern states.
Since the release and subsequent success of the Texas Mesquite limited edition whiskey, Peterson says Diageo and Hub have had preliminary conversations about products and packaging the companies can develop next. But in whatever direction the Crown Royal brand takes its next product, Peterson says Hub will be ready to create a package that allures consumers in groundbreaking ways.
“It goes back to the collaboration and the trust with the client for them to want to do something unique, but not knowing what that is,” Peterson says. “And trusting that we can come through with some ideas and something new that they hadn’t seen before.”
Related story: VIDEO: The 32nd Annual Excellence Awards Judging