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When brands use a change in packaging as a story hook

The PR world may be dominated by trends and trolls, but something as simple as a change in packaging can still make a big impact. Here are a few examples of ways brands have used packaging to generate positive PR.

Frozen Coke

Back in 2013, Coca Cola launched its Ice Bottle. This bottle was made completely out of ice and in the iconic shape of a classic Coke bottle. After news of the bottle took off, Coca Cola worked to increase the production of the bottles, and launched them into a further seven countries in 2015.

These were distributed in US cities through what Coca-Cola called an ‘experiential Ice Bottle tour’ lasting nine weeks and making 15 stops. By making the bottles out of ice, Coca-Cola ensured that no remnants of the bottles were left behind as litter, since they would simply melt away, providing customers with an ice cold drink with very little environmental impact.

Each bottle also featured a red rubber band with the Coca-Cola logo around the bottles to protect the hands of consumers. These bands could then be used as bracelets once the ice melted.

Following the tour, Coca-Cola stopped production of the ice bottles, having garnered over 1.3 billion impressions on social media, and $6.5 million worth of publicity. However, the soft-drink company still continues to create campaigns designed to directly involve the customer. At the same time that the ice bottle was created, Coca Cola also launched the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, swapping the Coca-Cola logo for some of the country’s most popular names.

This campaign has continued for five summers, encouraging users to personalise their coke, and, in 2014 alone, it sold over 150 million of the personalised bottles. Coca-Cola’s first new campaign in six years returns to the bracelet format by centring around turning the labels into peel away wristbands which will ‘unlock epic summer experiences’ via the Sip & Scan icon.

Each of these campaigns shows the way in which Coca-Cola has focused on making the packaging part of a specific marketing-led experience, and by targeting these campaigns in summer, it is also solidifying its position as the drink of the summer.

Pepsi perfect

Whilst Coca-Cola were building the experience into their packaging, in 2015, Pepsi decided to use a design from the future, or rather, from Back to the Future. Cashing in on nostalgia, Pepsi recreated the Pepsi Perfect bottles which were featured as a drink from the future in Back to the Future Part II (set in 1985).

These bottles were released in line with the time that Doc and Marty travel to in the future (21 October 2015). With only 6,500 bottles created, they were sold out within minutes of the official release time.

The design of the product and its packaging were directly based on the film, with the bottle being made to replicate the one shown, and the packaging depicting the key dates of the time travel.

The combination of a one-day only release and limited stock has led to these bottles now being valued on resale sites at between £100 and £600.

AO forts

At the beginning of the year, online retailer received a letter from a young boy in Bolton, inviting ‘Mr AO’ to play in the fort that he had made from the box that his mother’s fridge-freezer has arrived in.

This letter prompted a small social media push with a focus on fort making (including a video of employees making their own fort), and a design being made for large goods packaging to help children turn their own boxes into forts.

Genius Greggs

Last but not least - the PR masters, Greggs. Whilst being a staple of the UK high street, Greggs is very familiar with attracting media attention, both good and bad. In a recent stunt, Greggs sent its new vegan sausage rolls to prominent journalists in packaging similar to that of Apple; including drawstring bag, case, and a Mac-shaped case which played an Apple-style promotional video.

Its vegan sausage roll campaign has been described by those in the industry as a ‘PR masterclass’, after targeting notable Twitter troll and TV host Piers Morgan and turning his criticism into a PR coup.

The fact is that Greggs, a chain famous for unhealthy foods, managed to trend on Twitter on 4 January despite the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions and other hordes of online New Year’s traffic, which is a feat in itself. A lot of this could be attributed to the targeting and inevitable intervention of Morgan, but the figures both online, and in sales speak for themselves.

Written by at Nicola Samples, online marketing executive at UK Packaging

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