Life is not so sweet for booze pack designers

So it’s to be “Prohibition” at next year’s Design Week Awards. Booze packaging is to be banned on account that it is all too easy. Not that being easy, I must add, should be confused with the ability of making it look easy.

Regarding the claim that it doesn’t have to put up such a fight on shelf as contenders like Terry’s Chocolate Orange, it’s worth mentioning that at the last count there were 162 malt whisky competitors to The Glenrothes, over 650 blended whiskies and a further 780 cognacs and brandies all vying for basically the same consumer’s attention and credit card.

Now, how do you think this compares with the Chocolate Oranges of this world?

This weekend I had a look in my local Sainsbury’s just to be doubly sure, and surprise, surprise, the most competitive section by far was Wine and Spirits. Shelf after shelf of Chardonnay, all roughly the same price, and all beseeching me to buy – but which one?

A meander past the chocs to the checkout was an oasis of calm by comparison. (By the way, I’m not advocating a ban on confectionery on the grounds that it’s relatively uncompetitive and therefore too easy.)

Finally, there was the comment that originality was not in evidence this year. Well, we tried to be original with The Glenrothes and were accused for our pains of producing a urine bottle! Admittedly this appears to be only one juror’s view, but it was important enough for Design Week to mention.

Now I know judging sessions can at the end of the day become a bit wearisome and a little light relief can be most welcome. But I’m not at all sure what messages are being sent out to tomorrow’s packaging designers and next year’s entrants.

Style and appropriateness are not enough, say the jury. Have fresh ideas, show something that hasn’t been done before. (Avoid urine bottle lookalikes). Be witty, but much wittier than the wittiness of Lewis Moberly’s Bahlsen Biscuits or Tutssel’s Carling can. Above all, be careful – if you’re too daring they might just take the piss out of you!

Incidentally, The Glenrothes can’t be found in high-street off-licences because it it has completely sold out.

John Blackburn


London W1

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