Thursday, 4 October 2012

Package art

The supermarket aisle is a kind of an art gallery. Every product's packaging is designed to be eye-catching; some reach the level of artwork. I love how Warhol's interpretation of the Campbell's Soup Can is now featuring as a version of the Campbell's packaging; if the limited edition were up for sale in New Zealand, I'd be buying it. The packaging can add value directly: it can be beautiful. That adds very real value, no matter what the no-logo types claim.

I've worried about plain packaging pushes on tobacco likely being extended to alcohol. Recall that there's a reasonable case that Inuit print art began because indigenous artists were curious about how the guy who painted the Player's Light packages managed to get the little sailor to look the same on every pack. And alcohol packaging can be rather pretty: variations in bottle style, label images - those are worth keeping.

NBR reports that Beck's has announced a run of bottles here in New Zealand that will feature commissioned NZ art. I've shamelessly scraped their image below, but you should subscribe.

NBR writes (paid, subscribe!) that NZ artist John Reynolds, who created the labels:
...pulled lyrics from record label Arch Hill's extensive song catalogue - featuring artists such as Family Cactus, The Clean and Street Chant - as inspiration to create the 24 multi-layered pieces of artwork. 
The article notes Beck's has been doing this kind of thing since 1987.

How long 'till we see taxpayer-supported propaganda like this directed at alcohol?


  1. When I think of artwork on a bottle I think of Stolichnaya's limited edition bottle with artwork by Yuri Gorbachev.
    Although a regular bottle of Stoli is already a work of art.

  2. I can't say I favour moves towards plain packaging for tobacco products. I still think it is a person's individual choice to smoke or not, and while smoking is still legal in NZ I find it difficult to get my head around govt stripping companies of their IP. It just seems wrong to me.

  3. It's hard to make a case for it given that they've already banned retail displays. And the best consensus of sane people, whether they like tobacco or not, is that abolishing the brands does more to push people to lower cost products (difference between high and low end smokes narrows); given price elasticity of demand, they then smoke more rather than less.