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Jack Daniel’s Packaging Starts an Industry Wave

Written by in Customer Stories, Packaging, Paper Passion

New Jack Daniel’s Packaging
Achieves a New Level

Editor’s Note: Against the Grain has celebrated some of the best creative ideas in writing paper and packaging since 2009. This year we begin our series on clients whose ideas in paper and print best demonstrate the enduring beauty and flexibility of print — using some of our most innovative product ideas.  These clients exemplify our belief that “when you print, do it well. 

Brown-Forman, one of the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies, recently created an industry shift in the world of spirits packaging when it reintroduced its Jack Daniel’s gift boxes in a new folding carton substrate.

A Eureka Moment

Kate Stites, Senior Graphic Designer at Brown-Forman was looking for a way to enhance the Jack Daniel’s gift sets. Her goal was to elevate the packaging to create a higher-level on-shelf presentation. “The package design incorporates full bleeds inside and out, and because we were using SBS we were left with white edges along the cut lines. I wanted to eliminate those edges. I wanted to move away from SBS,” said Stites.

SBS (solid bleached sulfate) is so entrenched in spirits packaging that moving to a new product was unheard of, but leaning on the brand’s motto, “Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can” in her head, Stites began her search.

“My eureka moment was sparked by an announcement I saw in a design publication for a new solid black from Neenah. I literally ripped it out and did a dance,” says Stites, “I thought, ‘we can really take this thing to a new level.’”


The Undertaking

Stites and her team worked with Chattanooga-based Textile Printing Company (TPC) to source folding carton papers. Stites says Neenah Matte Folding Board came in above the rest, “It was the most cost-effective and flexible solution. It offered characteristics that made it particularly suited for the larger and heavier cartons we needed for our products, it’s a dyed-through board so it eliminated the white edges, and it was receptive to the decoration techniques that I wanted to employ; silkscreen, thermography, foil stamping, emboss and deboss.”

The new folding carton for the Jack Daniel’s VAP (value added packaging) would become a 26pt. solid black Neenah Matte Folding Board, with the rigidity and durability that meets the brands requirements, and a product that Stites refers to as “solid as a rock.”

Ultimately, what began as a small project to redo just the VAP packaging, became a strategic move across the whole family of Jack Daniel’s brands.

Gentleman Jack was the next to be produced with Neenah Matte Folding Board. However, the colors for this brand posed a production challenge; outside the box is a custom gray, while inside a vibrant orange floods the sheet. The orange wasn’t printing with the glow that Stites was aiming for. Since it’s a duplexed board, Stites suggested a custom dye instead of printing. “It was a great solution, not only did Neenah have the ability to match the color requirements perfectly, but they did it really fast, which gave us time for production tests, that was a huge factor for us. Plus we saved a press pass and a whole lot of ink,” said Stites.

The Industry Wave

The new packaging not only affected (and is now used for) the whole family of Jack Daniel’s brands, it’s also garnered significant industry attention, including several packaging awards for innovation, design and sustainability, as well as nods from other brands that are now taking a closer look at what Stites and her team are doing. “I have a much greater appreciation for how important the packaging substrate is, and how it can play a role as an actual design element in and of itself,” says Stites.