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FLEXO Magazine : April 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES Enter: The Green Giant. As the company evolved, it expanded into other vegetables, according to Cowan. And the Green Giant expanded into them as well. The brand image of the tall, leaf-clad character was so successful that, in 1950, the fi rm offi cially changed its name to Green Giant Co. While the Green Giant has been a mainstay of the company and its brand for nearly a cen- tury, his exact appearance has evolved and changed over the years. “He has been diff erent colors, he has been a woodcut, and the cartoon that you see to- day. He even wore a scarf in the 1960s to celebrate the launch of frozen vegetables,” said Cowan. Sprout, his trusty sidekick, was created in the 1970s to maximize contrast with the Green Giant and serve as a “Giant in Training.” A FRESH LOOK The Green Giant’s look has steadily morphed over the years; by comparison, however, the packaging on which he appears has changed drastically since his debut in the Roaring 1920s. Naturally, his original canvass was a paper label applied to a metal can. Today, the Giant is printed on cartons, labels, and numerous fi lm substrates. “It all started as a canning company,” stated Cowan. “Frozen vegetables is when the big shift happened. Freezing veg- etables at the peak moment of freshness, as we say it, came into play in 1961. Green Giant led the way in that technology.” Keeping in mind the current and future trends of consumers, last year, General Mills decided it needed to improve and revise the look of its Green Giant packaging. “If you think about frozen vegetables, it is so important to communicate that these vegeta- bles were frozen at the peak of perfection,” said Cowan. To fi nd its new message, General Mills worked with its design agency, Coleman Brandworx, to research some “fresh” ideas with the consumer. “We wanted our Valley to be a focal point on the packaging, as well as the Green Giant himself. We focused a lot more on our Valley and wanted to make it more own-able. Our vegetables ap- pear as though they are emanating from the valley,” said Cowan. In fact, the Green Giant resumed his familiar stance of standing over the valley. “He is the caretaker of the Valley,” insisted Cowan. THE FLEXO FACTOR In addition to executing the redesign across numerous sub- strates and packaging types, all graphical elements had to be repro- duced across various printing processes. The paper labels and pa- perboard packaging are printed off set while fl exible packaging and pouch material are produce fl exographically. Throughout it all, the Giant, the Valley and all the vegetable imagery had to match each other perfectly. “The key insight was that consumers enjoy shop- ping the produce section and selecting their choice of fresh veg- 42 FLEXO APRIL 2009 “We looked at the design in terms of what the printers’ minimum dots were going to be, and took advantage of hybrid screening and other screening techniques to make sure we were able to make a smooth drop off on the blue sky.” —Gail Wong, General Mills etables,” noted Gail Wong, brand design operations manager for U.S. Retail Packaging. “Trying to represent that same experience through a freezer case door can be a challenge, and key elements of the design involved beauti- ful photography of crisp fresh vegetables.” The key, according to Wong, was to keep the processes, particularly fl exo, in mind early. “We were involved in the concept stage and in the photo shoots to make sure we had enough tone in images, such as caulifl ower, so that we would be able to reproduce the intent of the design and make it easy to print consistently across all the platforms,” she said. “It was a success because of the collaboration between Schawk, Coleman Brandworx and the General Mills Photo Studio. It was especially diffi cult to reproduce the blue sky and vignette it off to white. Our marketing team was surprised we could do that so well.” Wong and her team leveraged all their knowledge of their printer/converter partners’ capabilities. “We looked at the design in terms of what the printers’ minimum dots were going to be, and took advantage of hybrid screening and other screening techniques to make sure we were able to make a smooth drop off on the blue sky,” she said. General Mills’ relationship with the prepress and brand management fi rm Schawk Inc. was another critical factor in ensuring all the packaging could be produced fl exo, and match similar off set products. “Schawk color managed us all the way through from digital photography right through to the printing plates on press. We worked with Coleman Brandworx to make sure that color managed ink jet proofs were shown in the design phases to set expectations right up front.” When it came to print consistency, that’s where Wong and her team shine brightest. After all, as far as consumer products companies go, General Mills is the leader in adhering to FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifi cations and Tolerances) guidelines from as early on as the concept and design stage. Still, there was much that had to be done. “We knew this was going to be very diffi cult to be consistent from run to run, from fl avor to fl avor and from printer to printer,” said Wong. “We did a lot of extra work to make sure that we had new fi ngerprint data on fi le and validated all of those fi ngerprints so that we’d have consistency. There was a lot of prep work. We could not attend every pressrun, so our expectation was to set it up correctly from the beginning. We had off set labels, web off set cartons, and fl exo being done at three to four diff erent plants.” Since the redesign was fully implemented last year, Cowan noted that the Valley is prospering. On all of the packages is one message, stated consistently for decades across numerous product lines, on numerous packaging types, run after run, re- gardless of the printer who put ink to substrate. No wonder this giant is so jolly. ¦ www. f le xography. org