Advertising/ design debate fuelled by Jaffa Cakes packs

It is ironic that the ill-fated McVities Jaffa Cakes packs should meet with opposition on Design Week’s Letters page (see page 11) just days after winning their first design award – from a marketing magazine – for creator Williams Murray Hamm.

Our correspondents are the first to criticise the words-driven design that has generally won support throughout the industry for its category-breaking boldness. Meanwhile, brand-owner United Biscuits has been cast as the villain for withdrawing the packs so soon after their launch, even if they have reportedly boosted sales no end.

But it is good to have dissent, especially when it provokes debate about design vis-à-vis advertising. If, as Don Williams maintains, the Jaffa Cakes packs constitute a campaign rather than a branding exercise, WMH sits alongside ad agencies rather than in the packaging camp. The packs are merely a billboard to promote the product, only this one goes home with the customer and remains there until the next shopping trip.

It’s very healthy for design to be regarded in this way as it battles against advertising to win the affections and budgets of the client. The effectiveness argument that we’re told the WMH packs can support is a valuable tool for design.

But didn’t packaging always have this power? Its main purpose is surely to shift goods off the shelf and help the customer differentiate between brands that might otherwise be indistinguishable.

We weren’t told at the launch that the Jaffa Cakes packs were the limited edition they have proved to be. But their demise helps the packaging brigade find new arguments to promote their skills to clients. How, we wonder, will Jones Knowles Ritchie replace them?

Royal reception for creatives

We hope the staff at Buckingham Palace have recovered from Monday evening’s onslaught by the great and the good of design. The palace was packed and the throng suitably well behaved for the elevated surroundings. The royals, meanwhile, were in good form and proved to be attentive hosts.

No one really knows what lay behind the event or what the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their family made of the designers present. But for those fortunate to be there, it was a timely reminder of the strength and diversity of the UK creative community, with representatives of all forms of design, from engineering to fashion, the crafts and advertising all mingling.

It is a great message for the royals to take with them on their ambassadorial trips, but also one for those of us in the business to remember and build on.

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