The brief: Design agency Webb deVlam was tasked with finding an untapped technology to incorporate into the packaging for gin brand Bombay Sapphire. The firm needed to find something that had the ‘wow’ factor and settled on electroluminescent ink for a limited edition gift pack
Brand: Bombay Sapphire
Design: Webb deVlam
UK launch date: November 2012
When it comes to designing a limited edition pack for gin brand Bombay Sapphire, the bar is always set very high, especially in the run up to Christmas. Whether it’s the use of eye-catching 3D labels or a beautifully crafted anniversary bottle there needs to be a ‘wow’ factor for the iconic Bacardi-owned brand.
The agency behind those creations, Webb deVlam, had to follow up a series of success stories with another limited edition pack, which hit the travel retail sector last month. For creative director Dominic Burke, the challenge was to roll out something that does more than simply stand out on shelf.
“Every year we are looking for a technology that fits together with the brand – it needs to have intrigue and encourage the consumer to pick up the pack and investigate,” he explains. “At the end of last year we started the hunt for the latest untapped technology.”
The search unearthed a technology that has been more prevalent in the point of sale market but was now ready to be adapted for packaging: electro-luminescent ink. Crucially, the technology had become feasible for packaging because the voltage required to power the pack to light up had improved.
It’s by no means a cheap option but the key was that the concept fitted in with the brand – the luxurious feel of Bombay Sapphire needed something to stand out.
Working under the tagline ‘Illuminate your imagination’, the bottle is encased in a carton with an illustration that lights up when the consumer picks up the pack. This is thanks to a battery located on the base of the pack that incorporates a hidden mechanical switch to activate it. The ink carries a charge that allows the pack to illuminate.
There are five sequences that link together and the illustration, combined with the illuminations, creates a cascading effect. The cycles happen three times and each animation lasts 18 seconds. The lifespan of the product is approximately 2,500 lifts.
To make the concept become a reality, Webb deVlam turned to German packaging manufacturer Karl Knauer. The firm is a supplier of the technology and one of very few in the world that can make these packs. But will we see more of these packs lighting up our stores in the future? Burke believes so as he reckons that the technology’s efficiency will improve while costs will come down. “The skill and knowhow to apply the technology will also improve,” he adds.
While this may be on the rise, the crucial part of any campaign is matching the look with the brand. The message needs to be consistent and Burke argues that the success of the Bombay Sapphire packaging is down to the good fit between the brand and the technology. “It’s all about the way it’s integrated. There are several Bacardi brands we work on where this technology wouldn’t fit,” he adds.
Having been launched through the global travel retail channel last month, it’s still too early to gauge how well the packs have been selling. However, Burke reports that initial reaction has been “phenomenal” and Bacardi has been impressed as well.
Richard Cuthbert, senior brand manager at Bacardi Global Travel Retail, says: “Webb deVlam continue to exceed our expectations and delight our customers with their use of innovative packaging technology that directly conveys Bombay Sapphire’s brand message. In this case the packaging is the message – it is literally infused with imagination.”
It’s a refreshing approach and creates a buzz in the run up to Christmas. Time will tell whether these packs will become more widespread but it does mean that Webb deVlam has raised the bar again – it’s going to make Bombay Sapphire’s next Christmas pack a real challenge.