by Lauren Festa
You’ve heard the idiom ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ In an effort to build brand awareness, Red Fuse Hong Kong uses discarded Colgate packaging to create an education tool for children in Myanmar. “Turning Packaging Into Education” has since won ‘countless awards’, including a Gold Cube at the ADC 94th Annual Awards.
Working closely with Colgate’s packaging designers, Red Fuse sought out to understand the complex mechanics and limitations of printing on the inside and outside surfaces of cartons. They also worked with Colgate’s supply chain and distribution teams in Asia at the regional level and in Thailand and China, to see what would be cost effective, the logistics of delivering special packaging to specific destinations, the current life cycle of cardboard packaging and how it was already being reused by residents in Myanmar.
“When we learned about the chronic shortage of school resources in Myanmar, we realized we could use Colgate packaging to deliver oral and general health education messages to school children. ”
With the help of local educators providing current syllabus requirements and what oral and general heath care education was most needed, the design team was able to produce 5 core lessons, with catchy, easy-to-remember names: “Grandpa’s Teeth”, “Cavities Attack At Night”, “Your Digestive System”, “Good Food vs Bad Food”, and “A Smart Way To Brush.” The illustrations, beautifully executed by Y&R Malaysia, are based off temple art found in Myanmar, historically used to impart knowledge. Lettering design was inspired by 1940’s public health education posters, with Y&R Yangon providing strong cultural insights to help craft the copy and make it locally relevant. It was the perfect mix.
The campaign launched in March 2014, with eight months for brief development to delivering the first physical package to Myanmar. The pilot project of ‘Turning Packaging Into Education’ allowed Red Fuse and Colgate to print and ship 100o cartons, supplying lessons to about 200 schools.
“To be honest, the seamless and tight collaboration process over an intense period in developing this project as one team across five countries… it is not possible to parse out where this or that part of the whole was done. We did it together.”
Repurposing throwaway materials for another use is not a new idea. On market visits with Colgate, Red Fuse observed that the people of Myanmar were creative in making the most of what they had, particularly in reusing old packaging boxes. They were used as product display stands, in-store messaging and signs for price lists. Colgate seized the opportunity to take a familiar practice and turn it into a new tool.
Colgate believes that everyone deserves oral health care. In a learning environment where pens, paper and pencils are scarce and access to digital media virtually non-existent, these repurposed packages have the potential to make a world of difference for students and teachers alike. On the first run, a film crew captures reaction footage of children excited about the posters, a welcome exchange for old dusty textbooks. Moreover, they were really into listening to lesson plans via a mobile connection. Teachers simply dial the number provided on the package, and on the other end of the line, a lesson that coincides with that design is delivered. The teachers loved the extra resource, and as Red Fuse understands, many of the posters have remained on classroom walls, well after the lessons are over.
Plans to expand the idea are in Latin America, Eruasia and Africa. Stay tuned to a healthier smile near you.
Special thanks to Sindy Ng.