Special Group takes OOB to the masses
By Josh Martin,
With a colour palette taken from fashion rather than food, the artist formerly known as Omaha Organic Berries is getting a makeover. Say hello to OOB.
Unbeknown to many, the ice-cream freezers in supermarkets have in-built magnets to draw customers to splurge on chilled delights. It’s not surprising then to see the chillers bulging with products most determined to offset your five-kilometre run.
So how did a small, organic ice-cream maker with broad market ambitions make a splash into the crowded shelves of deliciousness? It hired Heath Lowe and Special Group, a design and advertising agency that’s just scooped gold for its innovative and incredibly cool packaging at the Best Awards.
Design director Lowe and designer Emma Kaniuk say the bold packaging layout reflects the story of OOB (formerly Omaha Organic Berries), which is an honest company, focused on raw, natural ingredients.
“The product’s ‘truth’ is simple – it’s basically cream, fruit and sugar,” says Kaniuk, whispering the final ingredient. “So we kept the palate to three colours, which each speak to an ingredient.”
Lowe agrees the design is very different to any other competitors vying for the consumer’s eye, with pictures of fruits, chocolates and natural landscapes.
“Concept design in the 80s and 90s was all about decoration-adding,” he says. “Now we’re stripping that back to base ideas, which is what we did here. And the colour palette is influenced from fashion, not from food. That’s why it grabs your eye.
“Yes, it is a package. But we asked, does it have to look like a package?”
The packaging (well, maybe more its contents) was enough to tempt the fashionista waifs when it launched at a recent Kate Sylvester show at New Zealand Fashion Week.
“It was actually quite funny,” says Lowe. “We knew it was a success when we saw all these tiny models tucking into their OOB ice-cream pots.”
For something so fashionable, the OOB design is surprisingly uncluttered. OOB resisted the lure of more flashy gimmicks and add-ons.
“There is normally a nervousness in a client when there is a simple strategy and design, but OOB were very supportive of our vision,” Lowe explains. “Because that is what they are about – simple honest ingredients that speak for themselves.”
Lowe says OOB adds to the growing list of ‘eco-friendly’ clients who choose to partner with this small, independent agency.
“We do have this niche at the moment – organic, sustainability – honest clients seem to be attracted to us. Special Group links to many of these producers and owners well. They have entrepreneurial spirit and so do we, as one of the independently owned and Kiwi-focused agencies,” says Lowe.
So how do they manage to stay on top of the constant changes in the design and packaging world?
“I spend far too much time looking at product design in the supermarket,” says Kaniuk. “We like to see them all and then be very different.”