Best Packages of 2010: Muscle Milk Limited Edition Shaquille O’Neal AR Bottle

The years best packages capitalize on consumer trends Beverage Industry Magazine – Dec 2010

It’s known throughout the industry that beverage packaging is of utmost importance to woo and, in some cases, win over consumers. As theeconomy begins its uptick, consumers continue to watch their wallets, and eyecatching packaging designs can help a consumer commit to a purchase. Beverage Industry’s best packages of the year tap into that intrigue as well as channel popular consumer trends, including sustainability, nostalgia and interactivity.

This year, Benicia, Calif.-based CytoSport’s Muscle Milk brand introduced a special-edition 14-ounce plastic bottle with augmented reality technology featuring basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009-2010 NBA season. When a square with O’Neal’s No. 33 on the bottle was held in front of a webcam, the package released an animated O’Neal on the computer screen.

The package was released in Cleveland and surrounding markets earlier this year. The limited-edition augmented reality package helped expose Muscle Milk and O’Neal in Cleveland, says Nikki Brown, CytoSport’s chief marketing officer.

“Cleveland and surrounding markets are important areas for us, and Shaquille’s move provided us a great opportunity to celebrate our partnership with a locally relevant program,” Brown says. “Shaquille is a well-known athlete who the community was very excited about. The program was a great tie back to the performance aspect of the Muscle Milk brand.” CytoSport offered five different videos featuring O’Neal, who has the “perfect personality and sense of humor to make the program work,” Brown says. The augmented reality version of the athlete popped out of the bottle and compared himself to several Ohio landmarks, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition to O’Neal’s reputation, the limited-time offering intrigued consumers, and the company found the package was well-received by retail and distribution partners in the Cleveland area, Brown says. The program generated buzz and CytoSport is considering the place augmented reality technology can have in its future marketing, she says.

“We’re always thinking about what clever interactions we can have with our consumers, so we won’t rule out augmented reality in 2011,” Brown says. “But there are a lot of exciting technologies that inspire us, and as those technologies evolve, so will we.

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