About four years ago I took a break from my day job and went to Hollywood to chase Australian actors and filmmakers. The idea was to write a piece for Rolling Stone Australia on the lives of Aussie expats working in the entertainment industry. It was a similar project to one I had done a year earlier looking into the lives of expats in the technology equivalent of Hollywood – San Francisco’s Bay Area.
Around the same time, I was working on a book about the process of developing, commercialising and exporting technology out of Australia. It took me a little while to see the similarities between the two industries, but they are strong.
In film, you usually start with an idea or script (in technology, a business plan), which gets shopped around to producers (investors) who will hopefully put up the money to get things moving.
Then all hell breaks loose, as specialists are recruited and a team assembled to take the concept through to sustainability.
The difference between a film project and start-up, though, is that the film team tends to be far more ephemeral – members leave as soon as their skills (directing, editing, hairdressing, etc.) are no longer needed, and the entire project disbands soon after the product is produced.
Ronnie Apteker has stood in both worlds. Back in 1995 he co-founded Internet Solutions, which went on to become South Africa’s largest internet company. Over the next decade he and his co-founders gradually sold chunks of the company to South Africa’s largest technology implementation company, Dimension Data (which also acquired the Com Tech Communications company in Australia between 1996 and 2000).
Earlier this decade, with Internet Solutions a mature business, Apteker turned his attention to a new challenge – making movies. He is now onto the eighth production in which he has had a hand, usually producing.
“Every film is a start-up – it’s the ultimate entrepreneurial experience,” Apteker says. “You are making a product, and no one has asked you for the product. You are hoping that you are listening to the market and have picked up on something – a unique hook. You market the product, you sell the product and you distribute the product. It’s the ultimate start-up.”
In many ways, he says the process of putting together a film is more difficult than starting a company.
“On a film, no one is quoting you, no one is signing off on it and no one is asking you to make it. So that is the big difference – the vulnerability.
“And in a start-up at least you have a compass. People come to work on a Monday and leave on a Friday, and they are all on the same mission. But in a film, there are all these nomads – these contractors – that come together. It is very difficult to create alignment.”
You might have the best product on the market, but if it doesn’t catch the consumer’s eye, it’s likely to gather dust on the shelf. Creative packaging design is on the front line of product marketing. At its best, it is both functional and sexy. At its worst, it serves only to advertise mediocrity contained within. We explore the elite packages recently honoured at the 2006 Australian Packaging Awards and the Southern Cross Package Design Awards (for students).
2006 Design Awards
CRYOVAC TECHNICAL INNOVATION AWARD
This award highlights the package judged to be the most innovative and to represent the most significant advance in technology and/or materials usage.
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: GOLD
Entry Submitted by: Australian Inhibitor Pty Ltd
Pack Title: VCI Engine Protector “Export”
Component Manufacturer: Polystrom Plastics Pty Ltd Vacupack P/L
Designer Functional: Les Amy – Australian Inhibitor P/L Trevor Foster – Vacupack P/L
Designer Graphic: Les Amy – Australian Inhibitor P/L
Owner: Australian Inhibitor Pty Ltd
This is an ingenious solution to a costly problem. During the transportation of engines over long distances, water coolant leakage can potentially cause corrosion and damage to clutch and flywheel assemblies, with obvious negative effects. After intensive study and research, this engine protector (a first world-wide) was developed to put an end to the problem. The styrene co-extruded cover has been injected with Vapour Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI). The cover fits snugly over clutch and flywheel, and prohibits moisture leakage during transit. It’s simple to fit, with a ‘lock-in’ movement securing it in place, and it is universal in its application, making it perfect for export uses. And, not only is it a brilliant solution to a difficult problem, it is also brandable – featuring the Holden brand and product part number prominently moulded into its surface form. This product now has an applied patent pending no 2006 902 481.
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: SILVER
Entry Submitted by: Eyre BioBotanics Pty Ltd
Pack Title: Designed For Life – Composite Delivery System
Component Manufacturer: Colorpak Limited, Techno-Plas Pty Ltd Sonoco Australia Pty Ltd, Lablabo
Designer Functional: Eyre BioBotanics Pty Ltd
Designer Graphic: SpencerJames Pty Ltd
Owner: Eyre BioBotanics Pty Ltd
This is quite a complex technical achievement, designed to serve a specific strategic advantage. The objective of delivering ‘fresh and natural’ personal care formulations without added preservatives called for innovative thinking and clever containers. These plastic bottles contain soft internal pouches filled with product, and are capped with precision metering pumps. The ‘Airless Delivery’ system features unidirectional soft valves that offer air-tightness and prevent the return of air to the product. This protects against any corruption of the s, and allows for minimal preservatives to be added to the formulation. The Twin Chamber dual dispenser pump contains two separate products, and dispenses them simultaneously. However the judges were impressed by the ‘split’ dispenser pump version, which allows for two separate products to be bottled together and yet be dispensed individually. Both styles of container dispense their s in measured amounts. This is a benefit to the male user, taking the guesswork out of application quantities. The bottles are housed in a pressurised composite cardboard container specifically designed to protect the s from UV light, heat and humidity during transit, storage and display.
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: BRONZE
Entry Submitted by: Scholle Industries Pty Ltd
Pack Title: OptiServe
Component Manufacturer: Scholle Industries Pty Ltd
Designer Functional: Invotech
Designer Graphic: Scholle Industries Pty Ltd
Owner: Scholle Industries Pty Ltd
It can be easy to overlook the need to improve on a good idea, but here is a welcome advance on a tried and true favourite. The Optiserve dispensing tap reinvents the original cask valve with new styling and functional efficiencies. The major achievement being the snap-shut feature of the material and design, which has eliminated leakage and drips during use. Flow characteristics of dispensing have been greatly improved. Gone are the clumsy, hard edges. These are now replaced with a new modern curvilinear moulding which improves the feel and the look of this handy tool. Less force is required to hold the valve open, and finger ‘support wings’ around the rim make it far more comfortable to use. The material is a softer more flexible substance, and without the sharp edges it is much gentler on the fingers. A ‘snap-open’ toggle action gives great feedback to the user, along with an improved flow during use.
SUSTAINABILITY AWARD: Packaging for a Greener Future (sponsored by EPA Victoria)
Either an existing brand for which the packaging demonstrates a significant advance in environmental considerations or a new brand for which the environmentally-friendly packaging will provide a benchmark for its product/market segment.
Entry Submitted by: Wollemi Pine International
Title: The Wollemi Pine
Component Manufacturer: Australian Corrugated Box Co. BioDeg Mouldings Pty Ltd Garden City Plastics Norwood Industries Platicover (JV) Pty Ltd Shemrock Poly Pty Ltd
Designer Functional: Wollemi Pine International Pty Ltd McGeoch’s Birkdale Nursery Pty Ltd Australian Corrugated Box Co Norwood Industries Pty Ltd Entica Sophie Bartho & Associates
Designer Graphic: Wollemi Pine International Houndstooth Designs Entica Package
Owner: Wollemi Australia Pty Ltd
This remarkable product deserves remarkable packaging. Each piece of the puzzle that protects this plant has more than one role or advantage, and is fully recyclable. In a world first, this plant has been presented in a high quality bio-degradable pot, made of a polymer and wood base mixture that has a natural look and that will break down when discarded into soil or compost bin.
A protective sleeve wrap prevents damage in handling but also serves as a point of sale display and later doubles as a care calendar and planting guide.
The label is made from 100 percent recycled and recyclable polypropylene. It carries high-end photography and graphics, and opens up to provide detailed planting and product information. The outer box is moisture resistant, and strong enough to withstand the postal system. It assembles without tape, glue or staples – great for recyclability. The interior houses the potplant and accessories securely in place during transit. All-in-all an environmental wonder.
Southern Cross Package Design Awards (for students)
AEROSOL ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA AWARD
For the entry that best designs an aerosol for a product in a market segment not currently supported by an aerosol product offer.
Student Name: Jillian Setchell
Institution: Central TAFE, WA
Name of Entry: Spray Wormer
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: GOLD
Jillian developed an aerosol delivery system for pets, resulting in a safe, fast and effective treatment. Spray Wormer coats the animal’s mouth and tongue so that it’s absorbed directly into the bloodstream, thereby eliminating messy and distressing alternatives. The use of bright colours and clean typography give the product strong shelf appeal while reflecting the feline elements.
ALCOA AUSTRALIA ROLLED PRODUCTS AWARD
Student Name: Daniel Evans
Institution: Swinburne University of Technology, VIC Faculty of Design
Name of Entry: Ventolin Inhaler Pump
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: GOLD
Through great use of branding, Ventolin Inhaler Pump (VIP) is targeted to asthma sufferers of all ages and, with the wide range of colours on offer, is not gender specific. VIP is a small and slim packaging device that holds a Ventolin inhaler, providing a fresh and cool feel. Daniel has displayed great use of aesthetics resulting in a fashionable and easy to use device.
Student Name: Aiden Grant
Institution: Gordon Institute of TAFE, VIC
Name of Entry: DVD Birthday Card
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: GOLD
This entry brought a new look to the postage of DVDs with a “Happy Birthday” focus. Aiden’s research identified the benefit of such a design as it combines the card and package into the one item. The colourful message pad provides opportunity for a short message from the sender. The solid construction of the pack gives an important tactile message of quality.
Student Name: Min Chung Kong
Institution: University of New South Wales, NSW
Name of Entry: Picnic Tartine
JUDGES’ COMMENTS: GOLD
In a clearly researched design brief, picnic tartine enhances value and freshness with the use of vacuum formed Apet packaging. Min identified the target audience as working individuals and has provided a healthy lunch option with delicious spreads. These are all enclosed in a tamper evident and resealable packaging model, adding great value to this design.