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Philip Chadwick: Wogan’s TV rant should inspire not frustrate

January 9, 2013 9 Comments » Print Print

This Friday on BBC1, packaging will get it in the neck from a broadcasting legend. But, says Packaging News’ Philip Chadwick, perhaps we need the rants of Wogan to keep designers on their toes

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When I was a lad, the school run was made bearable thanks to Terry Wogan. My mum had every radio in the house permanently tuned to Radio 2, so there was no escaping him every weekday breakfast time. And while it was hardly cutting edge (none of that ‘zoo’ radio) I rather liked the befuddled ramblings from his listeners (known as TOGS – Terry’s Old Geezers). However, the less said about his choice of music the better.

There’s a reason why old Tel (now Sir Terry) showed up on my radar. Last week it was reported that this Friday’s edition of Room 101 will feature Wogan discussing one of his pet hates – packaging that’s difficult to open.

His main target appears to be food and according to the Daily Mail, sardines and pilchards get a rough ride. “You put your finger in the ring thing, dislocate your finger and break your nails,” he says.

Now before the packaging industry rolls its eyes and says “here we go again, more packaging bashing”, Wogan may have a point. Some packs are tricky to break into (as Larry David found) although in the industry’s defence, products do need protection.

It’s an issue that’s not just bothering Wogan. According to a study from tear tape specialist Payne, set to be released in full at next week’s EU Packaging Summit, consumers were more bothered about openability than over-packaging. According to Payne, this response was unprompted.

Designers have a difficult balancing act. On the one hand they do have to make packaging straightforward to open – it can  give the consumer an instant positive experience of a brand. On the flip side, products do need protecting and an ill-fitting cap could cause havoc.

There are plenty of smart brains coming up with some real innovations in this field, creating frustration-free packaging – Crown’s award winning Orbit jam jar lid immediately springs to mind. And Packaging News will be exploring the issue of openability in the February issue, the first of a new series of Consumer IQ features.

Wogan won’t be just targeting food packaging on Friday and gives toothbrush packs a kicking too. “Has anyone tried to break into a toothbrush lately,” he asks. Well, actually I have and found it pretty easy. But then again I’m not 74 and that brings in another issue – openability for those of, ahem, advancing years.

By all means watch Friday’s Room 101 and get annoyed as the focus is again on the negativity of packaging (Wogan’s not the first to highlight this issue on the show – the late comedy legend Peter Cook has been there and done that).

But don’t get too wound up. Wogan’s insights, and that of others, should inspire the industry to make sure that consumers’ relationship with packaging is frustration-free.

Philip Chadwick is features editor at Packaging News. Room 101 is on BBC1 this Friday (11 January) at 8.30pm.

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