Did Heinz spend $4 million to highlight how inefficient and frustrating its packaging can be? LiquiGlide believes it did and leveraged a “super” opportunity with a video response (screen capture shown above)—and updates Packaging Digest on the impending commercial roll-out of its unique, waste-reducing technology.
Besides centering on a shockingly anticlimactic game, the extravaganza that was 2014 Super Bowl prompted the start-up venture to poke some fun at a Heinz ketchup commercial centering on the iconic product’s packaging. The ad showed people struggling with getting the product out, the idea being that the product is thick—a familiar theme that the ketchup maker has used for years.
I recall watching the homey commercial and admit that I did not see it at the time in the same way as the opportunistic LiquiGlide managers did.
As a refresher: Developed by the Varanasi Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) labs, LiquiGlide claims to be the first permanently wet slippery surface. For packaging, it is a food-safe coating that can be applied to the interior surface of containers to allow products to slide out to ease frustration and save waste. We reported on it in a Tech Report published one year ago this month (LiquiGlide gives foods the slip to reduce waste). LiquiGlide can be tailored for the container type as well as for the product the customer wants to have slide more easily out of the container.
Here are LiquiGlide president Carsten Boers’ response to Packaging Digest's questions in reaction to its outreach to us.
Why this response to the Heinz Super Bowl ad?
We became famous with our ketchup demonstration – how easy the dispensing is with our coating. So we found the Heinz ad to be very funny: It spent $4,000,000 to advertise how poorly their packaging works (click here to see the Heinz Super Bowl ad) and we have a solution for perfect dispensing. We made our own version of the ad (click here to view) showing what the future will look like.
The Heinz glass bottle is an iconic package and we imagine that it will stay true to its heritage of waiting and tapping forever. However, their squeeze bottle would greatly benefit from our coating. All of us know the experience of getting insufficient ketchup out of the bottle, but it still feels so full that we put it back in the fridge with the hope that magically, next time it will dispense.
With our coating you easily get full portions every time and end up going through each bottle quicker –the consumer is happier and Heinz sells even more ketchup.
We see it in every consumer study when we put coated packaging next to uncoated: consumers hate waste and they love LiquiGlide. Many want to buy the product with our coating on the spot - and they're willing to do it at a significant premium. They love it because it looks fantastic, it’s convenient and they understand immediately that it allows them to get everything they paid for. Now that’s happiness to clap for!
What's going on with LiquiGlide?
We released our first finished coatings to clients in the past months. One client has just completed all testing and is planning the roll-out with us. This first one will be a processing application, so the consumers will not be able to see it directly. We are also just about to release several finished packaging coatings to various clients. They will validate our test results and then we expect several consumer products with our coatings to come to market in 2015 – it takes that long to plan and implement the whole rollout.
We are really excited and proud of how quickly we have achieved commercialization. Usually it takes a new technology 7 to 10 years from the lab to a commercial implementation – with these first coatings it’s taking barely two years. It’s a testament to how exceptional the technology platform is that Professor Varanasi, Dave Smith and the team developed.
Altogether, we are currently working with more than 20 international clients; our development cycle for each coating keeps speeding up. We expect that in 2015 and 2016 dozens of products will have our coatings – from condiments to lotions to toothpastes to paints to glues and more. We are also starting to feel our way into the oil and gas sector, industrial manufacturing and medical devices. It will take a while for some of those applications to come to market, but they will be far reaching.
We've now had more than 3,000 inquiries about our coatings and as we can demonstrate finished coatings now, the speed at which clients are ready to move is greatly increasing. We’re currently negotiating several exclusivity agreements for specific applications and industries.
The first three products with LiquiGlide coatings will probably be toothpaste, mayonnaise and paint, with lotions, conditioners and shampoos following shortly behind.
Sources: LiquiGlide, Packaging Digest