This is only my second year as Chairman, but I can confirm to you that being part of the jury is an exciting and infectious experience. Before the judging, as we waited to enter the room where all the exhibits are laid out, we wondered what surprises were in store this year. And we were definitely not disappointed in the richness of quality of the large part of the submissions.

The number of entries was also very high (thank you sincerely all contributors!), only a little less than last year, so there was plenty to choose from, but and there’s always a but, the dominance of some categories, both in numbers and in innovative thinking, is all too obvious.

For the routinely well supported categories, there is always a surplus of good ideas. But, for the weaker ones, nothing stands out as a great solution. Worse, there may not be sufficient quality in any of the entries to get a prize. This is a great pity because, as Richard Dalgleish says in his foreword, there are lots of fantastic packages out there in the stores. Why aren’t they getting into the contest? If this was only a competition about technical excellence, I’m sure there could have been many winners. There is no doubt that the standard of execution is exemplary. However, it is a competition about broader attributes, principally consumer benefits, which includes an aesthetic element. This is even true about so-called “functional” packaging.

This is the area where we encounter difficulty. In fact, this year the pharmaceutical category was judged not to have the standard of entry that merited an award. This is very sad, considering it is a category where there is not the same squeeze on pack costs as would be found in mainstream food and beverages. What is the problem? Are there not enough innovations/renovations going on? I don’t believe this. Are we not getting a representative set of entries? This is more likely.

I would like to suggest that, if we want to create the high profile we need to make packaging a genuine high-performance media, we need to get those missing entries into not just pharmaceutical, but every category.

Marketing people in client companies are not necessarily only interested in mass media. If they see a genuine opportunity created by exciting packaging, they will grab it with both hands. A few personal comments on the winners.

The innovation award, that recognizes outstanding “out of the box” thinking was well merited by the barbecue starter kit. It displayed a rare characteristic – it was self liquidating! The jury really appreciated the inescapable fact that this pack was really “holistic” and even disposed of itself at the end of its life. Any more out there like that? I hope. Get working on them for 2005!

The Carton of the Year was simply a very elegant use of the capability of solid board – to make itself into a really pleasing shape that wasn’t a rectangular box. The technical and aesthetic aspects of this pack really came together beautifully to make an almost organic shape. Furthermore, it opened to make a great tablepack for family sharing.

The other winners brought a variety of surprising features:

  • The very different “leaning” perfumery pack. This needed courage to bring to the marketplace, as it broke a basic shelf utilisation rule of merchandising.
  • The rice pack, which did everything that you could ask of a pack, and more.
  • The simple and different board neck label for a juice pack, allowing naturalness to come through.
  • The two-drawer pack for chocolate mints – a little surprise goes a long way.

All of these were a pleasure to choose as winners, because they merited their awards through many dimensions of appeal, both technical and communication.

A last thought.
Packaging is clearly a high performance medium; at its best the equal of any other media. It is absolutely value for money. But, it is not something that we can stop pushing and supporting. If we do, it will lose its momentum. We count on you, the material suppliers, the pre-press industry, the printers and converters to help us promote this great medium. Thanks a million for 2004 – and let’s make 2005 even better!

Allan Boyle,
Vevey, August 2004