AIPIA Congress 2016

‘9 Green Bottles’: Who will design Heineken’s next generation smart bottle?

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Beer Bottles

Nine companies battled it out for a place on Heineken’s Design & Packaging Team to design its next generation smart bottle, at the AIPIA Congress in Amsterdam.

Constantia Flexibles; CapTag Solutions; Speechcode; Stora Enso; Nanomarker; Kezzler; Origintag; Rako Group and Bluelog; took part in a three-minute ‘elevator pitch’ in front of an audience of attendees and a team including Bionda Hakkenberg, brand design manager and Mark Van Iterson, global director, Heineken Design.

'Find the founder'

Mark Van Iterson, global director, Heineken Design

Among the concepts were Michael Huth, CEO, Nanomarker, who suggested Heineken uses a nano-sized image of its founder, Gerard Adriaan Heineken, to create a game using a smartphone called ‘find the founder’.

Barbara Operschall, CEO, Speech Code, who pitched her “talking labels” technology so that bottles can literally speak to their consumers in over 40 languages using NFC ‘Speech Tags’ and Rako Group’s, tap and match smart lightning label to promote a fun way for singles to meet in bars.

The Heineken team will announce the winner next month and invite them to its headquarters in Amsterdam to further discuss their idea.

Iterson told the audience design for packaging is very much at the centre of what Heineken does as the bottle is the icon of the brand. 

Our team looks at how we design the brand in such a way that consumers like it and don’t buy our competitors’ brand​,” he said.

Heineken beer is one of the least innovative products on the planet because it has been the same beer for over 450 years. Yes, we are innovative in the process of the beer but the product has always been the same. This means we have to be more creative around it, and building the experience around it. This is what people recognize all over the world​.”

Iterson added because the beer is sold in over 192 countries worldwide, it has many agencies and partners working with them to make sure the brand keeps on growing around the bottle.

It starts with that consistent solid foundation, with the founder, who looked at all the brown beer bottles around him and chose to promote his brand in a green beer bottle to stand out from the competition. That is still our signature color today. The foundation of our identity​,” he said.

‘Cities Campaign’ labels

There is a huge amount of work going on to make sure we have news to tell and to make sure people in bars see Heineken. ie Cities of the world, our ‘Cities Campaign’ labels, or a link to a James Bond movie where we made special labels for the last film​.

Heineken ‘Elevator Pitches’

  • Richard Gilliat, technical director, Constantia Flexibles, using print technology to put a digital display on the bottle with city names. Pressure sensitive labels are already on the market such as LEDs etc where technology is moving is to bring down the thickness of the electronic intelligent labels on a bottle.
  • David Potter, commercial director, CapTag Solutions pitched Smart Cap Tag labels where the consumer can communicate with the brand using a smartphone.
  • Barbara Operschall, CEO, Speech Code “talking labels” technology. Speech Codes are 2D matrix codes containing speech information. Users scan the codes offline using a free App containing up to 40 minutes of speech output in over 40 languages. “Speech Tags” are NFC tags containing speech information of up to 30 minutes of speech output.
  • Juha Maijala, project director, intelligent packaging, Stora Enso, personalizing a bottle using connectivity design using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and NFC (Near Field Communication), to integrate in-coding digital rewards.
  • Michael Huth, CEO, Nanomarker, a subsidiary of Potsdam Specialty Paper (PSPI), utilized the image of Gerard Adriaan Heineken, the founder of Heineken, to superimpose a nano-size digital image on bottles and using a smartphone launching a game ‘to find the founder’.
  • Bart van Geel, Sr. business development manager, Kezzler. Delivering a relevant message on a bottle in real-time using its Consumer Verification and Track & Trace software.
  • Marcin Pilarz, CEO, Origintag, Talkin’ Things technology can follow customer purchase activity using a two-stage NFC sticker on a bottle for example, using promo codes or allowing customers to chat with one another.
  • Thorsten Wischnewski, head RFID, Rako Group, pitched its tap and match smart lightning label as an interactive bottle promotion or as a fun way to meet people in bars.
  • Jeremy Laurens, sales and marketing director, Bluelog. It promoted its Coolbeer app to tell consumers where they can buy the nearest bottle of cold beer from a shop and scan information about the brand with a QR code.

If you do nothing you become old fashioned and outdated. As a brand, you have to evolve over time. If you look back over our brand history you can recognize slight changes such as changing from a black to a green bar banner label. We are always keeping it current and contemporary to make sure it doesn’t look outdated.

With the ‘Your Heineken’ campaign eight years ago, consumers could go online and print on demand a customized sleeve, or for a six pack. These work as a gift, or at a party, and music events​.”

Another example of innovation was the inaugural ‘Heineken Limited Edition Design Challenge’,​ a global design competition to mark the 140th anniversary of Heineken in 2012, to design the bottle of the future.

The winning design saw a mixture of five circular Heineken logos from different decades, and incorporating the famous red star trademark, by Fernando Degrossi, a graphic designer from Sao Paolo, Brazil.

The only way to move forward is to experiment, prototyping trying to reinvent everything and assess what works well, such as glow in the dark bottles, or putting a cup of water on top of the bottle to encourage drinking water in between drinks to support sensible drinking​,” added Iterson.

Last year’s sustainability report is an animated story for users. And we have developed igNITE reactive bottles where an LED lights up to the sound at musical events, ‘music light up star’.​”

He added it was exciting for the team to see the nine pitches at the AIPIA Congress (November 14-15).

It was inspiring to see the pitches and we will need a bit of digestion on our side to pick out the pros and cons of each one​,” he said.

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