There’s a Reason They Call it a Billboard
by Kate Bertrand
Paperboard makes a comeback for multipack cartons and consumer goods packaging.  
Recognizing the power of the paperboard carton as a “billboard” on-shelf, high-profile brands such as Pringles, Labatt and Friskies are turning to the packaging material, particularly for multipacks.
We’re seeing “a trend back to folding cartons, primarily because they provide a better opportunity for brand awareness and recognition thanks to the billboard effect of the carton’s front panel and the high-quality printing techniques available on paperboard,” says Tony Petrelli, vice president of marketing and business development with Caraustar Industries Inc.
Pringles Snack Stacks
Multipacks are a natural application for a paperboard billboard. When Procter & Gamble (P&G) launched its Pringles Snack Stacks, it chose a paperboard sleeve for eight-packs of single-portion, polypropylene cups. The company chose a paperboard tray for multipacks of 18, 24 and 32 cups.
In contrast to the curved surface of the familiar Pringles composite can, the Snack Stacks multipacks offer a substantial, flat surface to present brand imagery and product information. Rock-Tenn Co. supplies the multipack sleeves and trays, which are flexographically printed. Winpak  and Printpack both supply P&G with the single-serve Pringles cups that go in the Snack Stacks multipacks, and Winpak also is the cup lidding converter.
According to Jim O’Rourke, purchases group manager for P&G’s Global Business Services, a P&G study of consumers showed “it was an overwhelming win to have that billboard side of the package, even in the club stores.”
O’Rourke explains that at P&G, “We talk about the two moments of truth. The first is when the consumer chooses the product in the store, and the second is when she uses the product.” He says the Snacks Stacks package “entices the consumer to purchase—we win in that first moment of truth. It has really given us an advantage.”
Continuous branding
Labatt Brewing Co. created a multipack with six facings, for the ultimate retail billboard. The package, created by MeadWestvaco Packaging Systems, also provides the functional benefit of chilling beer without using a cooler.
Called the Labatt Blue Tailgate’r, the cylindrical package holds 28 cans of beer. The consumer opens a tear-away section to access the product and to pack ice around the cans. An inner bag catches the icy runoff.
The package is constructed from 18- and 27-point MeadWestvaco coated natural kraft board and includes a reinforced plastic handle. The package’s perforated divider inserts transform into paperboard coasters.
The Tailgate’r provides a sizable branding presence at retail, and it also reinforces the Labatt Blue brand throughout the product’s journey to the point of consumption at a tailgate party, picnic or barbecue.
Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. used a similar strategy for its Friskies 12-Can Pantry Pack. This carton is made of solid unbleached sulfate board, printed via sheetfed offset with six colors on the top side and one color on the carton’s interior. The interior is printed with a coupon.
 “Nestlé Purina PetCare did an outstanding job of integrating the graphics of the Friskies Pantry Pack carton with the graphics on the can to make the product branding continuous from the retail environment into the consumer environment,” says Caraustar’s Petrelli. “This package communicates the brand when it’s unopened, and it does it as well when it’s opened, in its dispensing format.”
A branded end cap
Packagers of CDs are also exploiting the power of paperboard to gain brand exposure in big-box retail environments, book stores and music stores.
The Relaxation Co. opted for eye-catching paperboard boxes for its new Brain Fitness Kits. Each kit includes two CDs, a printed booklet, a card deck with yoga postures, and a container of aromatherapy balm.
The kits are available in three titles, and each title sports its own signature color: orange for the Alpha program, blue for Delta, and purple for Awakened Mind. The packaging, with its bright colors, understated sell copy and large icons on the front panel “screams brand,” says Jeffrey Charno, president of The Relaxation Co.
Branding and design consultancy Planet Propaganda worked with The Relaxation Co. to develop and brand the product concept and to design the packaging, which consists of a hinged setup box with a flocked, thermoformed PVC insert. The box is made from 22-point chipboard for durability.
The product is still in launch mode, but at the time of this writing Borders, Barnes & Noble, Wild Oats Markets and Whole Foods Market are already stocking the Brain Fitness Kits. BP
Where to go for more information...
Paperboard cartons. At Caraustar, contact Tony Petrelli at 216.281.7651 or  
Paperboard packaging. At MeadWestvaco Packaging Systems, contact Bill Cowman at 416.702.6181 or
Package design and brand consulting. At Planet Propaganda, contact Rob Sax at 608.256.0000 or
Paperboard packaging. At Rock-Tenn, contact Gary Miller at 770.448.2193 or
Single-serve cups. At Printpack, contact Hwan Cho at 757.229.9200 x14234 or
Cup lidding and single-serve cups. At Winpak, contact Dick Abbott at 610.296.1524 or
Several packages mentioned in this article were award winners in the 62nd (2005) National Paperboard Packaging Competition:
The Labatt Blue Tailgate’r package won the President’s Award.
The Friskies 12-Can Pantry Pack won a Gold Award.
The Pringles Snack Stacks multipack won an Excellence Award.
For information on all of the winners, please visit
For some packagers, environmental consciousness is a key brand attribute. For them, using recycled paperboard packaging is a way to reinforce those values.
Blue Diamond Growers, for example, recently switched to recycled paperboard cartons for its Blue Diamond Natural Nut-Thins Nut & Rice Cracker Snacks. The product is sold in natural foods venues and has a loyal base of customers concerned not only about what they eat but about the environment.
The switch to recycled packaging came in response to customer requests. Because the product is all natural, “It’s a synergy to use recycled paperboard and to be environmentally friendly,” says Jennifer Pfanner, marketing manager with Blue Diamond. General Converting supplies the recycled paperboard cartons.
Paperboard packaging. At General Converting, contact Pat Mitchell at 630.378.9800 or