‘And the winner is…’ Who will design Heineken’s next generation smart bottle?

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Heineken has picked three winners from the AIPIA Elevator Pitch. Picture credit: Heineken.
Heineken has picked three winners from the AIPIA Elevator Pitch. Picture credit: Heineken.

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Heineken has chosen three out of nine companies to work on its next generation smart bottle, following an Elevator Pitch Contest at the AIPIA (Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association) Congress.

Constantia Flexibles, CapTag Solutions and Rako Group will meet Heineken’s Design & Packaging Team​ in the next couple of months in Amsterdam to discuss their ideas.

Light up LED bottles

At the pitch, Constantia Flexibles demonstrated pressure sensitive labels with LED lights to promote the names of cities; CapTag Solutions presented its energy-CapTag, which lets individual bottles light up on the shelf and Rako Group pitched its tap and match smart lightning label for interactive bottle promotions.

Constantia is delighted that our pitch at the AIPIA conference was recognized by Heineken as one of the winning submissions,” ​said Richard Gilliat, technical director, Constantia Flexibles.

“The Constantia proposal to develop a label with a variable electronic display, aligns very closely with the brief supplied by Heineken. We look forward to working closely with the packaging and design team on this project in the coming months.” 

David Potter, commercial director, CapTag Solutions said its labels can offer long range item level supply chain/inventory control; short range digital consumer engagement; energy harvesting to drive LEDs or E-Ink displays and tamper evident capability for brand protection.

He added the presentation finale involved a colored E-Ink display in red, direct from its partner E-Ink’s labs in Taiwan using the energy-CapTag variant driving that display.

Thorsten Wischnewski, head RFID, Rako Group, pitched its ‘tap and match’ smart lightning label as an interactive multi-sensory experience and as a fun way to meet people in bars for example.

I think we gave Heineken some good ideas. The audience liked it very much, and we at least proved it’s an active prototype​,” he said.

Three weeks to prepare

The preparation for the pitch was tough as we only had three weeks to prepare. It was a great team effort on our part​.

From our perspective we are a specialist in electronic magnetics, energy harvesting and RFID, which is quite special for a printing company, which is our core business. We worked across three divisions to create a prototype with holograms and RFID, then the marketing team to talk about the idea of ‘tap and match’.

The whole event has given us proof that we are heading in the right direction​.”

The six other contestants were; Speechcode; Stora Enso; Nanomarker; Kezzler; Origintag; and Bluelog who 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.

Iterson said packaging design is at the centre of what Heineken does, because the bottle is the icon of the brand. 

Heineken beer is one of the least innovative products on the planet because it has been the same beer for over 450 years," ​he said.

"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​."

He added: “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."

Innovation and reinvention

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.

He said it was exciting to see the nine pitches at the AIPIA Congress (November 14-15) and was looking forward to working with the winners.

Heineken ‘Elevator Pitches’

  • Constantia Flexibles: 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 bringing down the thickness of the electronic intelligent labels on a bottle.
  • CapTag Solutions: Smart Cap Tag labels let consumers communicate with the brand using a smartphone.
  • 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.
  • Stora Enso: personalizing a bottle using connectivity design using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and NFC (Near Field Communication), to integrate in-coding digital rewards.
  • Nanomarker: a subsidiary of Potsdam Specialty Paper (PSPI), used 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’.
  • Kezzler: Delivering a relevant message on a bottle in real-time using its Consumer Verification and Track & Trace software.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bluelog: 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.

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1 comment


Posted by mohan kuruvilla,

Thank you for the information on Packaging design initiated by Heineken .Goes to show how Packaging is the way in promoting your brand and stimulating purchase

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