Six steps to Powerful Promotional Packaging

by Bob Swientek
On-pack, in-pack and other types of promotions lift sales. But these campaigns work best when they build brand equity, too.
Label technology helps Coors ‘Peel & Win’
Labeling technology from Smyth/Interactive and FLEXcon helped Coors create an innovative “Peel & Win” campaign. The labels carry a metallized look that emphasizes brand appeal.
With three separate labeling options to show the new look, Smyth/ Interactive created the primary label using FLEXcon’s metallized silver polypropylene film, and the neck label using metallized silver polyethylene. The secondary label, the intricately designed Peel & Win label on the back of the bottle, utilizes FLEXcon’s clear polyester. Smyth/Interactive uses an inkjet to variable-information print an individual Personal Identification Number (PIN) on this label. This printing presented a software challenge for Smyth/Interactive.
Consumers peel back the label to reveal the PIN, then check the Coors Web site to learn whether they are a winner.
Additional graphics on the clear polyester produce a metallized look that complements the primary label and neck label.
The promotional label is a two-ply film with a pressure-sensitive base ply attached to the glass bottle. The top ply adheres to the bottom ply with a dry-release adhesive that keeps it securely affixed until the consumer removes it. High-pressure washing of the pre-labeled bottles at the brewery does not alter this adhesion. The removed label retains no adhesive residue.
Where to go for more information...
© Promotional labels. At Smyth/Interactive, contact Bill Orme at 651.643.2235 or
© Labeling services. At FLEXcon, contact Richard Harris at 508.885.8284 or
In- pack, On-pack, Contests and Other Types of Promotions are “shouting” in Greater Numbers Across Many Different Aisles of the Store.
Marketers are turning to promotional packaging because it:
- Adds value to a brand.
- Grows product volumes and sales.
- Generates excitement around a brand.
- Drives impulse purchases by motivating consumers in-store.
- Allows control of the brand’s message. Retailers and the media can “filter” much of the brand marketer’s message.
- Breaks through the clutter on the shelf. Some retailers don’t want point-of-sale materials in their stores. Promotional packaging overcomes this obstacle.
- Rejuvenates and brings a sense of “new” to a brand.
- Allows consumers to interact with the brand in unique ways.
But often, the promotion focuses too much on the “giveaways” and less on how the promotion fits the brand strategy. The short-term sales goal supersedes long-term brand building.
How can you create effective packaging promotions that appeal to your target consumers, grow the bottom line and build brand equity?
Here are six steps to powerful promotional packaging.
1. Start with a good promotion
Your promotion should be relevant and believable to your target consumers. It should be consistent with your brand positioning.
A recent packaging promotion from Campbell Soup achieves this synergy. The company produced limited-edition soup cans bearing Andy Warhol’s colorful renditions of the classic tomato soup label.
The special soup labels come in green and red, pink and orange, aqua and indigo, or gold and yellow. A copy of Warhol’s signature appears on the side of each label.
Campbell’s markets the cans in a shrink-wrapped four-pack at Giant Eagle supermarkets in Pittsburgh (Warhol’s home town), western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and parts of West Virginia.
Andy Warhol is a pop icon and tomato soup is an iconic brand, says Len Herstein, Senior Marketing Manager for Campbell’s condensed soup. “The promotion links to the past but is relevant for today.”
Like Warhol’s paintings, tomato soup is an art form. Consumers can enjoy it alone or add condiments to create a custom dish, Herstein says.
Campbell’s is targeting moms with “tweens” and teens and 55-plus consumers.
“It is critical that both promotion managers and marketing executives pay close attention to the brand and the equity building potential of each marketing initiative,” says Mark Sneider, AccuPOLL General Manager. “Too many companies overlook the brand and the equity factor when creating promotions. Unfortunately, the vast majority fail.”
AccuPOLL uses five key measures to predict the success or failure of a promotional campaign. These are:
1. Impact on purchase behavior
2. Value perceptions
3. Uniqueness
4. Fit with the brand
5. Ease of compliance
“Overall, a strong relationship exits between purchase intent and value perceptions,” Sneider says. “Uniqueness has the weakest correlation with purchase intent, compared to all other measures.
“Most of the promotions that we have tested fail not because they are not unique, but because they don’t generate strong value perceptions and ease of compliance ratings among their target audience.”
AccuPOLL research finds that consumer interest in contests and sweepstakes is declining. This may be due to the time required to fill out and send in entry forms. Consumers may feel their chances of winning are low.
Also, the contests may lack a strong relationship to the brand. Thus, the idea is lost in the shuffle.
2. Set realistic goals
Understand your promotional objectives and have realistic expectations about your return-on-investment, says Lance Vandenberg, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Smyth Cos.
“Know all the costs associated with the promotion—prize pool, point-of-purchase, advertising, insurance, redemption and administration,” he says.
Redemption rates for coupons can vary based on their value. “One company that offered a coupon for $2 off the next product purchase expected a 10 to 15 percent redemption rate. Instead, consumers redeemed about 80 percent,” Vandenberg warns.
3. Establish generous timelines
Since your promotion has many parts, create timetables that accommodate delays and errors. The last thing you want is a promotional kickoff without the product on shelf.
But that’s exactly what happened to Pepsi earlier this year when it launched an under-the-cap promotion. The soft drink maker’s Super Bowl advertisement offered the chance for free music downloads on specially marked bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist.
But many major markets, including New York and Los Angeles, didn’t receive the promotional packages until March—about four to six weeks after the commercial aired.
4. Design strong package graphics
Corporate policies on sizes and colors for brand names, logos and graphics on packaging may hinder your promotional message, says Art Irvine, Senior Vice President of Catalyst.
“For package flags or violators, bigger is better for visibility on shelf,” Irvine says.
Irvine has five tips for designing flags or violators on packaging.
1. Capture as much “real estate” as possible. Make the promotional “burst” interrupt the normal package graphics or brand name. Your consumer should not have to work hard to find or understand your offer.
2. Position your flag so consumers will see at least part of it in any shelf position.
3. Make the central message simple and easy to read. Use the two second rule: If you can’t communicate your promotional message in two seconds or about five words or less, you will be ineffective on shelf.
4. Use contrasting colors to help distinguish the promotional flag from the package graphics.
5. Use a readable typeface, like Helvetica or Arial. Consumers can read these san serif fonts quickly and easily.
What should you put on the package flag? If the promotion is a game of chance, Irvine suggests including the name of the promotion, headline, subhead and a “No purchase necessary. See side panel for details” copy block.
It’s good to repeat the “No purchase necessary” rule on the side or back panel. Other text for the panel should include contest dates, participants, specific voids, major prizes, odds, values and miscellaneous items.
For all promotional copy, it’s advisable to consult your legal department.
5. Take the package to the ‘Extreme’
Effective promotions give a lot of space on the packaging to “tie-in” partners, Irvine says. For movie tie-ins, brand marketers receive a halo benefit of free publicity when the motion picture runs in theaters.
Your partner’s brand equity can further reinforce your brand essence or bring new users into your franchise.
Some brands move from sharing the package with a partner to delivering the partner’s product, Irvine says. “This is the ultimate offer—the product and property as one.”
For in-pack or on-pack premiums, it’s better to show the actual freebie through a die-cut in the packaging than a picture of the giveaway item.
Consumers like to see what they’re getting. But make sure the premium is secure and theft-resistant.
6. Integrate and engage
Integrate your promotional packaging with other marketing vehicles. Use advertising (television, radio and print), free-standing inserts and other promotional vehicles to drive consumers to the shelf.
Use the internet to send e-mail announcements to your core consumers.
Create promotions that allow consumers to interact with your brand well beyond the product purchase. Engage them in a contest through your Web site.
Brewer Brau Union ran a “talking” beer can promotion last year in Hungary. The campaign upped sales 70 percent. Riverside Technologies supplied the audible cans.
The author, Bob Swientek, is the Editor-in-Chief of BRANDPACKAGING magazine.