Saturday, 21 November 2009

Packaging wot talks

For a while now I’ve been intrigued by the way that packaging has started talking to us, addressing the consumer like a friend in the cause of a very modern business phenomenon: the brand that isn’t a brand, that can accumulate its millions by remaining cool and cuddly and non-corporate. Here are a few examples I’ve collected over the last few years:

‘A big hello from Jonty and Nick and all the Fryers at Burts. Do you like our new packs? We love them! They were inspired by the beautiful shoes of our friend Kate Cordle! But why animal prints? We wanted to highlight the awful business that is Palm Oil Cultivation in Borneo and the harm it is doing to Orangutans.’ (Burts crisps)

‘We’re delighted you’ve decided to treat yourself to the natural, healthy goodness of goats’ milk.’ (Delamere Dairy goats’ milk)

‘We developed this grease-proof pouch after a customer complained their Danish stuck to the napkin!’ (Pret a Manger Danish pastry)

‘It takes a steady hand to make a really good cappuccino. Just to be sure we weigh about one in three.’ (Pret a Manger coffee cup)

‘What is an innocent smoothie? Well, since you ask …’

‘Once opened consume within 4 days or we’ll come round and get you.’

‘We like talking: If you’re passing and you fancy a chat, we’re here at Fruit Towers …’

‘One portion of this smoothie will provide you with the same amount of antioxidants as your average 5 fruit and vegetables a day. But this doesn’t mean you’re excused from eating some nice veggies with your dinner tonight.’ (All the above seen on Innocent Smoothie bottles)

Mundane quote for the day: ‘The noblest prospect in the world, it has been well said, is London viewed from the suburbs on a clear winter’s evening. The stars are shining in the heavens, but there is another firmament spread out below, with its millions of bright lights glittering at our feet. Line after line sparkles, like the trails left by meteors, cutting and crossing one another till they are lost in the haze of the distance. Over the whole there hangs a livid cloud, bright as the monster city were in flames, and looking afar off like the sea by night, made phosphorescent by the million creatures dwelling within it.’ (Henry Mayhew, 1849)


  1. hi Joe,

    Love your books and your blog! - regarding the post above, socialogically speaking, where do you think this food infantilisation has come from, and where do you think it's leading? (see also 'the cupcake phenomenon')

  2. Still copy though isn't it? Just more cunning.

  3. It's all a bit much - I did actually email Fruit Towers once (about the recyclability of their cartons) but they didn't deign to reply. I blogged about a variant on the cute-and-friendly packaging a while ago

  4. Thank you all for the comments and links. I've never heard of the cupcake phenomenon before - what is it?

  5. joe - have you not seen in any weekend colour supplements the endless shots of cupcakes, all with cutesy pastel coloured toppings? They are almost ubiquitous

    here's some articles on them that you might find interesting:

  6. Thanks worm - it all makes sense now.