Brand-enhancing beverage packaging

Striking carton design helps boost sales for artisan beverage product

Metsä Board’s design team and expert partner network worked their magic to create a northern-lights themed packaging masterpiece for Arctic Blue Beverages that wowed consumers and the packaging community alike. This visually impressive, fully recyclable carton helped to boost Christmas sales of their artisan product by a massive 70%. 

​Every so often a packaging design comes along where everything falls into place perfectly; a unique design that captures the story behind the product's origins, catches the eye of the discerning consumer and shows what can be achieved when the best of the best in packaging design and manufacturing pool their expertise.

Metsä Board was tasked with helping Arctic Blue Beverages break new ground with a packaging design for its Arctic Blue Gin. Work began at the Metsä Board Excellence Centre in Äänekoski, central Finland, bringing together the brand owner, the packaging converter and the Metsä Board packaging design teams from Europe and the US.

"Although the Excellence Centre is in Finland we can work 'locally' thanks to our global network, which is vital when working with global brands. People, cultures and backgrounds differ across markets, so we needed to think outside the box to create something visually stunning and truly unique that would appeal to the target market," says Marko Leviskä, Metsä Board's Graphic Packaging Designer. 

Reaching for the stars

To showcase Metsä Board's cooperation with Hazen Paper Company, Metsä Board Americas Packaging Services Director Mark Beamesderfer developed the idea to create a stunning night-time scene depicting the northern lights shining above the rugged Finnish landscape. Hazen uses environmentally friendly metallisation to create special holographic effects on packaging. Marko took Mark's vision and ran with it.  "We worked on visual ideas such as combining graphics and embossing effects, and from there Hazen created the stunning holographic effects which added the final touch to our design," Marko continues. 

Metsä Board can also offer testing capabilities using eye-movement tracking technology in its virtual store in the Äänekoski Excellence Centre to see how packages might perform on real store shelves. "With lean communication between the converter, printer and brand owner and the capabilities of the Excellence centre we were able to accomplish rapid prototyping to evaluate the design and speed up the whole process," Marko explains. 

The image of the northern lights came from Finnish photographer Eeva Mäkinen. The Metsä Board design team developed the structure, graphics and embossing of the carton, which is made from MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright paperboard. This paperboard was ideally suited to the highly challenging print of the package, providing a uniform surface with the smoothness and stiffness needed to get the large hologram to adhere to the paperboard without any flaws.  

The image was accomplished by printing on top of Envirofoil, a plastic-free holographic metallisation effect from Hazen with 20 times less aluminium per square inch than metallic ink, making the carton fully recyclable. The holographic effect on the carton flashes and moves like an animation thanks to an ultra-thin coating in the transfer-metallised layer.  

Metsä Board partner AM Packaging printed and converted the package at its plant in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

A true masterpiece born of collaboration

"As packaging professionals you need to demand unbeatable quality and trust that your partners can execute your vision. As a global design team we are exceptionally lucky to have trusted partners around the globe who can help us deliver. This is something that money cannot buy and which gives us an edge over the competition," Marko highlights. 

The package won the 2020 AIMCAL Product of the Year Award as well as a ScanStar 2020 award from the Finnish Packaging Association. 

Toni Eurasto, Head of Business Development, Arctic Blue Beverages: "It has been a pleasure working with the Metsä Board packaging service team. The close collaboration has helped to speed up the product development and launch process, and we have now established three different packaging concepts together with Metsä Board, each with a unique design. The northern lights packaging concept helped to increase our sales in Finland by 70% during Christmas 2020."