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God is in the digital detail

Social media apps reposition how we should think about packaging design

Mary Lewis Lewis Moberly

A recent study in Australia has found that ‘second screening’ - interacting with social media through your smart-phone or tablet while simultaneously watching television, contrary to reasonable expectation, doesn’t detract from the TV watching experience. Far from it, second screening actually increases the intensity of the watching experience as programme viewers look for smart observations, anecdotes or incidents to pass on to friends and followers.

Apparently there is a significant increase in engagement and much more detailed memory of what was going on, to whom and why.

So why is this relevant to packaging?

It’s worth remembering that Millennials – the Generation Y who have grown up with the World Wide Web, simply expect to be connected 24/7, see little distinction or delineation between their online and offline worlds and apply these rules as much to packaging as to programming.

They view the augmented reality apps at the heart of ‘intelligent packaging’ like Blippar, Zappar and Aurasma; apps that seamlessly stitch together the real and virtual world, as entirely natural and appropriate - a great way to play with, investigate, interrogate and experience brands further and deeper.

For those of us that can remember typewriters these innovations might represent amazing technology, but for Millenials they aren’t intelligent packaging, they are simply what they expect and demand from brands.

Fundamentally these apps reposition how we should think about packaging design. It shouldn’t be thought of as the culmination of the consumer journey with the brand, a way of pulling together the brand triggers created through advertising and other communications channels. 

It puts packaging design right at the beating heart of the brand, the start of consumer’s journey of discovery and engagement, giving consumers the ability to seamlessly unpeel vivid, virtual layers of the brand. This feels particularly relevant to alcoholic drinks with rich, complex, multifaceted and highly engaging brand stories to tell. 

It gives brands the ability to take consumers instantly from the bottle to the distillery, from barman to master brewer or open the door instantly on the brand’s history as told by founder. And if the second screening research is anything to go by, the prize is stronger brand engagement, greater brand appreciation, richer brand memories.

A great example of this greater engagement in action is the work Diageo did in Brazil around Father’s Day last year. Diageo introduced bottles of whisky that buyers could record personalised video messages on for Father’s day. The bottle featured a QR code that, when scanned with a smartphone, allowed them to create their video.  When their father opened his gift, he could scan the same code on the bottle to see the personal message.


10 July 2013