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Kent cigarette multipacks carton lights up with integrated electronics

Traditional tobacco-product branding went up in smoke last spring when the BAT Global Travel Services division of British American Tobacco (BAT) launched a light-up carton for its Kent brand of cigarettes. A setup box with a magnetic lid that incorporates electronics to illuminate a line of text when the consumer interacts with the 10-pack carton, the Kent cigarette package was used as an eight-week promotion, with an "overwhelmingly positive" response," in duty-free airport shops in the Asia-Pacific region.

Says Markus Poelzl, global account director for MeadWestvaco Corp. (www.meadwestvaco.com), which designed and converted the carton, "The purpose of this promotion was to generate brand awareness for the Kent cigarette brand by creating a package that, while on the retail shelf, attracted the attention of BAT's target customer: hip, affluent, early-adopting consumers."

In development for two years, the 11 1/4 x 33 3/4 x 2 1/2-in. carton uses MeadWestvaco's coated natural kraft (CNK) to provide stiffness and incorporates an electronic module in its lid that uses a circuit board, a touchpad, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and conductive inks from T-INK(TM), Inc. (www.t-ink.com).

As Poelzl explains, the carton was designed to encourage the consumer to engage with the package. When the consumer presses a red switch in the upper-left corner of the carton's top panel, a circuit board is activated that lights up the words, "Inspired From Within" in a scrolling manner on the front of the carton. The lights stay active for approximately 10 sec before shutting off.

The greatest challenge of the project, Poelzl shares, was to incorporate electronics into a paperboard-based package while meeting cost-point requirements. When MeadWestvaco supplied the initial order of cartons to BAT, the lid's electronic module was manually applied. However, MeadWestvaco notes that automatic insertion is possible.

Recently, the Kent carton was awarded the Top Innovation Award of 2007 as well as a Gold Award by the Paperboard Packaging Council (www.ppcnet.org) in its 2007 National Paperboard Packaging Competition.

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