A new addition to the judging panel this year was Dr. Janet Shipton who is already very familiar with the Carton Excellence Award not as a judge but as an entrant from her time at Chesapeake/MPS. Pro Carton met with her and Peter Klein Sprokkelhorst, consultant to the jury, to find out their views on both the challenge the jury faces and also how to submit the perfect entry.
Pro Carton: What did you expect from the two days of judging of the two sets of Awards? Maybe start with the Young Designers Award.
Janet Shipton: Through recent experience of graduate recruitment for packaging development roles I had become increasingly worried about a general lack of young creative talent. It’s been relatively easy to find good packaging scientists and engineers, but more challenging to find graduates with a combination of creative and technical skills.
For the student awards I was hoping to see entries that demonstrated creative expression whilst showing technical problem solving and an awareness of production capabilities.
I feared I might mainly see fancy graphics on poorly worked out construction, rather than designs that explored and exploited the three dimensional and textural opportunities that cartonboard provides.
For the professional Carton Excellence Award I was hoping to see coherent and exciting packs that exploited cartonboard’s properties. Whilst I appreciate clever carton construction, a good pack design should not have clever carton engineering working in isolation. I was looking for graphics, print, effects, branding and 3D elements to all work together to support the brand and provide a clear coherent pack.
And what was the reality?
Shipton: The amount of entries for the student award was amazing. The designs that impressed me most were the coherent solutions to real consumer needs. Sometimes these effective designs looked very simple, often the ‘less is more’ rule stood out. Overall, I thought the quality of the student entries was extremely exciting with a few clear stand-out packs. I left the judging process feeling reassured that the packaging industry has a bright future.
Sprokkelhorst: Entering for awards is like a pitch – you want to win. Decisive for a successful entry are the idea, concept and a real need of consumers. Most professional entries this year solved these requirements most impressively and were well thought out. The standard of the entries for the Young Designers Award was awesome and it was really difficult to whittle them down to a shortlist. It was a time consuming and demanding task, but really inspiring too.
Shipton: For the Carton Excellence Award, again I was impressed by the breadth and depth of entries. Categories that particularly stood out for me were the pharmaceutical and drinks categories, where real innovation and exciting cardboard engineering to support the brand were on show. My overall reflection on the two days of judging was what a positive experience it was.
What would you recommend to entrants?
Sprokkelhorst: You have an audience with different and individual needs and requirements – the judges reflect the variety of decision makers on the path of success: designers, brand owners, retailers and we are all consumers too. It is important to think of the entire process in detail, from production through to the consumer, to highlight the key elements for each of the stages the carton runs through on its way to success, as well as to focus on the USP of the entry. And never forget that, above all, sustainability is the major aspect of high interest to all judges.
Shipton: Where students fell down was where they hadn’t done the research to understand the market and its needs, and due to the sheer number of entries it’s important to supply clear images, samples and words to explain the concept in a direct way. Having a physical mock-up is helpful to clearly demonstrate the concept.
Sprokkelhorst: The entries for the professional Carton Excellence Award are usually very well prepared. What is important is that participants understand that this is more than simply being attractive and eye-catching, but that all entries will be judged according to various criteria: these include graphic and structural design, production techniques, cost-efficiency, ecology, innovation, convenience, brand message, advertising impact, sales stimulus, etc. Depending on the category, these criteria are also weighted differently: what counts in the business sector also counts in the competition!
Shipton: When completing the entry form the entrants need to be clear about what makes the pack a potential winner. Too often the description is too long and doesn’t clearly highlight the one or two things that make the pack different and better from the rest. So, before you start writing, identify the pack’s outstanding features and concisely describe them. Better to list one or two distinct attributes, or technical difficulties that have been overcome that apply specifically to this pack, than a long list of features that could apply to all of them!
Dr. Janet Shipton is an accomplished project manager, experienced in developing and delivering multiple detailed projects on time and within budget. Packknack is a network of talented consultants for packaging research, design innovation and development.
Peter Klein Sprokkelhorst was managing director of Zedek Deventer Holland (which today belongs to the Smurfit Kappa Group) and turned the company into a major display and packaging supplier in Europe. He retired in 2008, but with 45 years of experience is still active as an independent consultant.