Jan 09

Special Editions

Posted by Packaging Sense in Advertising | Bottles | Design | Uncategorized

… how to create something so unique that word-of-mouth becomes an efficient marketing tool.

First of all we must make a difference between a special edition without any other marketing activities and a promotional package.

In the first case, if well done, there is a very small extra cost, e.g. just a new lithography, while in the case of a promotion, there must be a real return-on-investment if considered successful.

Why a special edition? … to revitalize a brand and put it ‘top-of-mind’, in other words to do something different in order to be noticed. However, as always in marketing, no change for change’s sake! The change must produce a synergy effect, i.e. something must be added to the brand by

  • being closer to the target group;
  • a more contemporary image;
  • a stronger identity;
  • making the pack a collector’s item.

There are many good examples, but as it is easier to explain bad ones, I start with two brands that just ‘play around’ with the identity which one should avoid.

Kronenbourg 1664

The other day, I bought some of the cans which play around with the four figures… I question the idea behind it? In my opinion, it will do nothing for the brand.


I think this design is too far from the core idea. Well, as I have not seen any other communication, I may be judging it too severely, but here again, as in the case of the Kronenbourg 1664, I feel one is just ‘playing around’ with the brand.

Now, over to some good examples. I have basically ten categories and hope that some of the examples will inspire the reader to do even better!

Celebrating the original

Kellogg’s is very good at this, repeating quite often that they have the original (and best) cornflakes. I like the example I found in my native Sweden which reads quite prominently “There is only one original”.

A touch of nationalism

We are all more or less nationalists, so why not play on that string? Here is a Norwegian example from Freia (Krafft) that says it all. Do it big or stay in bed!

Seasonal editions

This is by far the biggest category. The masters are Nivea of which I have chosen two examples, as well as one from Ferrero. However, my favourite is the yearly edition of the Tuborg Christmas brew. In fact, the beer is slightly different so maybe it doesn’t belong to this article, but I hope you agree that it is great design, highly emotional! Just while I wrote this article, Nestlé launched a Winter yogurt!

Using personalities

Coca-Cola is doing some great designs for the Coca-Cola Light aluminium bottle with Karl Lagerfeld! Another French example is Perrier (a brand that often has special editions), using sexy Dita von Teese. In this category, we also find the highly sophisticated Coca-Cola aluminium bottles inspired by Daft Punk, the French electronic music group.


My three examples show the great variety which means that there are still many untapped events for special editions. S. Pellegrino had for some months a special edition for the Cannes film festival. A few years ago, during the European Football Championships organised by Switzerland and Austria, Mars changed their Mars bar into “Hopp” which is how the Swiss celebrate their team (“Hopp Suisse”). The third example is Perrier’s Roland Garros tennis edition… a new version every year!

Special shapes

Well here, some cost increases will occur. However, this is the most visible and powerful way of creating a special edition. Didn’t Kleenex’ triangular shaped box win the Diamond Pentaward two years ago? The Evian drop bottle from year 2000 is today sold on eBay for 20x the initial price. This is an excellent example of a collector’s item!

Special materials

As Absolut will never change their bottle shape, what do they do? They dress up the bottles in various materials from plastic to cloth or to metal. Another very popular solution is to sell your product in a metal tin which then stays in the home to be used for other products for many years Kambly’s biscuit tin is just great packaging!

Design and Art

This is a category where I personally would like to see many more examples. Milka uses art now and then, so did S. Pellegrino last year with a special Missoni label. I would add to this category the excellent Heineken aluminium bottle for night clubs and other places with special light effects which make the can glow! What a difference with the “1664” bottle mentioned earlier in this article!


Another way to boost sales is to tie up with another brand. Marmite has done this a couple of times. As we have here a new product, maybe it doesn’t belong to this article. But it is just great marketing!

Social Marketing

I believe this will be a growing category in the future. The example I chose comes from Sweden and it was launched just before Christmas some years ago. Who would not be willing to pay a premium price for a product if the extra money goes to the Red Cross?

As the reader may see, the possibilities to create special editions are numerous. I have no sales figures about the chosen examples, but I know that consumers expect constant change from big brands. Just ask Google!

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