Packaging that makes you go, ‘Hmm’

VitaminwaterWe’re officially on the fence about witty product packaging — labels and containers that have flippant, supposedly charming observations about life, the universe and everything (even, sometimes, the product). There’s Mike’s Hard Lemonade, whose six-packs say, “Ask Mike what he puts into his hard lemonade and all you’ll get is, ‘I’m not saying, but I can tell you this: 10 lemons go into a room; only three come out.’ He’s a little mysterious like that.” There’s Heinz, which replaced the words “Tomato Ketchup” with lines like “Easier to Spell Than Worcestershire” on some labels. Then there’s Ben & Jerry’s, which understood the value of the whole chatty-packaging thing early on. On the one hand, some of this stuff is fun. On the other hand, the more homespun and non-capitalist it tries to sound, the more phony it can feel. (Just ask Ben & Jerry’s about phony.) Is it better to be upfront about one’s phoniness? Glacéau seems to think so when it says, on its bottles of vitamin water: “We do not believe in succumbing to commercialism. Unless, of course, there’s a lot of cash. Then we’ll talk.”

—Posted by Tim Nudd

UPDATE: Another annoying example has come to our attention: Teany green tea (tag: “100% natural. 100% nice”), marketed by Moby’s hip Lower East Side restaurant of the same name. The label has a cool Matt Groening sketch, but then you have to listen to Moby give his oral history of the brand. “We sort of know what we’re doing,” he concludes. “Well, Kelly knows what she’s doing. I’m still pretty clueless, which is why I get the job of writing this label text while she does the work that actually requires skill. Thanks for drinking Teany. Come and visit us and say hi.”