Heinz, Nestle, Dannon, Tropicana, and other packagers have discovered an eye-catching way to launch new food products: They design a shapely blow molded bottle, then totally envelop it with a brightly colored shrink or stretch label. This marketing concept could launch tens of billions of plastic bottles in the next few years.

 Anyone who shops for food these days is bound to encounter a growing number of eye-popping blow molded packages intended to provide striking graphic appeal and stir the impulse to buy. The packages consist of redesigned versions of traditional plastic bottles that are nearly 100% sheathed in tight-fitting, brightly decorated shrink or stretch labels. These full-body labels can be applied to monolayer and barrier containers and are as effective for extrusion blow molded PP and HDPE bottles as for stretch-blow molded PET.

A new generation of high-performance labels that provide 360° head-to-toe coverage is what makes this packaging concept possible. Graphics are top-quality, typically with 10-color rotogravure printing, and they envelop the bottle in a blaze of color, logos, and printed information. The labels shrink into or stretch around contours, penetrate variable geometries (such as hourglass shapes), and conform to irregular features (grips or slender necks).

A dazzling example is the extrusion blow molded, 19-oz, six-layer, PP barrier bottle for Kick'rs ketchup launched early this year by Heinz North America (see cover). The intent was to launch a new line of flavored (e.g., barbeque) ketchups. For visual impact, Heinz chose a 2-mil-thick styrenic label supplied by American Fuji Seal. The label's glove-like grip accentuates the flowing lines of the bottle, complementing a design that also includes ergonomic contours to give an easy grip.