Judging The Procarton Packaging Excellence Awards 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017
What was I hoping from the two days of judging in June 2017 in the Procarton head office in The Hague:

Through recent experience of graduate recruitment for packaging development roles I had become increasingly worried about a general lack of creative talent. It’s been relatively easy to find good packaging scientists and engineers, but more challenging to find graduates with a combination of creative and technical skills and appreciation.

For the Procarton student awards I was hoping to see entries that demonstrated creative expression whilst showing technical problem solving and an awareness of production capabilities. 
I feared I might see to much fancy graphics on poorly worked out construction, rather than designs that explored and exploited the three dimensional and textural opportunities carton board provides. 

For the professional Carton Excellence award I was hoping to see coherent and exciting packs that exploited carton board’s properties. Whilst I appreciate clever carton construction, a good pack design should not have clever construction working in isolation. I was looking for graphics, print, branding and 3D should elements all working together to support the brand and provide a clear coherent pack.

What we got:

An amazing amount of entries for the student award.
Some were individually devised briefs, but clearly some students had been set a brief from their school. Neither approach worked better or worse than  the other, and neither gave any student an advantage.
The designs that impressed me most were the coherent solutions to real consumer / product needs. Sometimes these effective designs looked very simple, often the ‘less is more’ rule stood out.
Where students fell down was where they hadn’t done the research to understand the market and its needs, and due to the sheer number of entries it’s important to supply clear images, samples and words to explain the concept in a direct way. Having a physical mock-up is quite important to clearly demonstrate the concept.
Overall, I thought the quality of the student entries was extremely exciting with a few clear stand-out packs. I left the judging process feeling reassured that the packaging industry has a bright future.

For the professional Carton Excellence award, again I was impressed by the breadth and depth of entries. Categories that particularly stood out for me were the pharmaceutical and drinks categories. Where real innovation and exciting cardboard engineering to support the brand were on show. I was a little disappointed with the quality within the confectionary category, although we ended up having very worthy winners.

My overall reflection on the two days of judging was what a positive experience it was. With lively and healthy debate with the other excellent judges to agree on a truly deserving collection of award winning packs.

Dr Janet Shipton
Packknack Ltd.