From Beverage Digest 2/21/97

Coke Debuts Contour Can. Designer Recounts
Multi-Year Effort. Confident Re Cost.

Coca-Cola Co introduces new aluminum contour can for Coke Classic "early next month" in Terre Haute IN plus "4 southwest markets" (BD 2/7/97). Cans produced by American National Can (ANC) in Houston; filled at Coca-Cola Enterprises plant in Cleveland TN. New package about ¼-inch taller than straight-wall can. Coke executive: "Most filling lines and vendors can handle it with slight modification." Company to test different price points and package configurations. Multipacks. For Terre Haute test Coke introduces special 6-can paperboard wrap with open corners so cans visible to consumers; similar 8-/18-can packs planned for other test markets. Manufacture. Can production uses process developed by joint venture of ANC and Swiss-based Oberburg Engineering, says Packaging Strategies. Cans are shaped by "rotary machine equipped with expanding tools."

Designer. Joe Kornick of Chicago-based Kornick Lindsay (KL) designs contour can; also PET contour bottle, Sprite dimple bottle. Says KL develops "proprietary structures and graphics for consumer products." Kornick predicts contour can's cost ultimately "similar if not better" than straight-wall. Sprite. Industry observer: "Is a Sprite proprietary can far behind?"

Interview. BD asks Kornick: Appearance of new can? "We tried to capture the equity that exists in the contour bottle. That's represented in the curvilinear shape. It's represented in the pinch toward the bottom of the can. It's represented in the defined horizontal graphic display panel, and it's represented in the (vertical) fluting ... The critical thing here is that it really addresses the proportionality ... We did the proprietary PET bottle system for Coke ... We did the Sprite bottles, we did the Fanta bottles ... It's all part of an integrated system."

Contour can development time? "Literally years."

Development/your role? "We were the designers on the team which developed the can. (It) was a team-oriented project, (because) building any type of proprietary package touches a lot of people within an organization. It's not just marketing (executives) saying we want a graphics change. Chang(ing) a structure is driven by marketing, but it (affects) people in operations, manufacturing and distribution." Origin? "What's most imperative right now is (that) Coke is introducing a contour can ... Prior to (steel contour can test in) Germany (BD 4/28/95), there was a can tested in Canada with an embossed logo on it (BD 9/16/94). We also designed that ... As designers we take manufacturing and operations constraints into account ... We don't do it in isolation." Adds: "You can only push metal so far before it begins to tear, so there are physical limitations of the material which is basic science and physics; the manufacturers bring that to the table."

Team makeup? "There was manufacturing (representation) on the team. There were Coke's own internal operations people (plus) their internal package engineers and marketing (executives). We were charged with the design."

Strategy? "We were trying to develop a proprietary container ... Because there are so many technical unknowns, you didn't want to limit the exploration by saying, `Oh it has to be this.' Consequently we had a variety of concepts on the table (to meet) Coke's marketing objective and (deal with) the technical manufacturing constraints. That yielded a range of solutions, because there's a range of manufacturing opportunities ... As more people get into shaping cans, (the) solutions won't all lie in doing exactly what Coke has done. Different manufacturing technologies beget certain kinds of solutions."

Why a contour can with contour PET's success? "20-oz has done remarkable things for (Coke's) business, there's no question about it. (But) realistically in that business, you have to have a variety of serving sizes ... Cans lend themselves to certain things that bottles don't. They really do."

Will cost of contour can approach straight-wall? "That's certainly the goal ... As you get into any type of innovation, you're going to be on a learning curve. That is going to carry you through a growing knowledge base, which is going to garner efficiency on top of efficiency. You should be able to achieve a cost point (with contour can) which is similar if not better than current technology."

Coke bottlers' views. Executives: 1) "The Coca-Cola Co believes that someday all Coke products should be in proprietary packages." 2) "The day will come when everyone in the world who drinks Coke out of a can will drink it out of a contour can."

Pepsi. BD learns Ball Corp produces prototype shaped can with diagonal swirls. Industry executive says "(Pepsi) may be looking at something like that, but nothing is imminent." Can executive previously tells BD Pepsi "interested in a shaped can" (BD 2/23/96).

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