One of the lesser revelations at the FINAT Congress in Monaco in June was the difficulty, for the association's secretariat, of translating this year's theme--"the battle for shelf appeal" into French. The nation that has given the civilized world thousands of words for different foods, and tens of thousands for wine, has no convenient way of expressing the notion of shelf appeal. You have to use a whole phrase like "the attractiveness of products displayed on supermarket shelves." This is strange because French super-and hypermarkets use plenty of flair and even seduction in presenting their products, but seem to have surprising gaps in vocabulary to describe what we in France are forced to call le marketing and le design.
HALF-OPEN DOORS AND FALLING SHADOWS
During one session of the Congress, FINAT invited representatives of four major brand owners to take part in a discussion forum. Some of the brand owners' opinions were predictable: "We don't care what print technology you use, we only care about the result," or "Price and delivery count for everything." Others were encouragingly new, as the statement by the manager from a leading French perfume company: "We welcome converters to work with our marketing people," a statement that provoked a strange sound, something between a snort and a sigh, from the converter sitting next to your correspondent. As T.S. Eliot so succinctly put it, "Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow." More shadows gathered when the same forum discussed sustainability and recycling. Along with the usual lament ("Everyone wants to be green but no one wants to pay for it") came the remark from the same French Perfume man, "We don't separate out the used liner from our other waste, but it's a good idea, maybe we should try it." Moral: never assume that you've got your message across until you get the right feedback.
No need to push the recycling message to Germany's Hagnraier Etiketten, winner of the newly created FINAT Recycling Award. There were five entrants, and Hagmaier won on the basis of its take-back service which has resulted in a high percentage of used liner being returned and shipped to UPM's Plathing mill for recycling. This operation was mounted with cooperation from Cycle4Green, the Austrian recycling consultancy. FINAT also offered a prize for the best recycling initiative from a brand owner, and this went to Unilever, partly thanks to its...