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'Lizard skin' package unveils Crüe's greatest hits

Get out your headphones! To entice fans, the heavy-metal rock band Mötley Crüe has created a packaging sensation for its latest album, and the band itself selected a box wrap from FiberMark Packaging (www.packaging.fibermark.com) to create a luxurious look and feel.

Mötley Crüe quickly built a following in the 1980s, issuing a debut album, "Too Fast for Love," on its own, independent Leathur label. Elektra Records soon signed the band, reissuing the debut as the band began a string of heavy-metal hit releases throughout the decade. More than 20 years after the release of their first album, the artists are still finding ways to deliver their music to devoted fans.

This year, the band launched the first of a three-volume, greatest hits, compact-disc series called "Music to Crash Your Car To." The packaging for all three boxed-set volumes is constructed with distinctive materials from FiberMark that include the box wrap, which has a lizard-skin quality. Both the outer rigid box and inner CD holder are covered in the unusual lizard-like wrap. The material has the tactile and visual elements the band was after, confirms Pat Lawrence, senior vp of Universal Music Enterprises/Hip-O Records, Mötley Crüe's record label. "This is more than just a boxed set—it's a way to show the band's appreciation for dedicated Crüe fans," Lawrence says. "The FiberMark material adds both a look and a texture that draws in the audience, taps into their excitement and allows fans to experience the band's work in a different way."

The packaging had to create a vision for fans who love Mötley Crüe, not only for the band's rugged, head-banging style, but also for the big hair, the leather, the raw, "macho tattoo" imagery and the band's audacious attitude. But the package also carries a sophisticated bookbinder's quality.

Hoping to create a package that leverages the combination, Hip-O Records approached Shorewood Packaging Corp. (www.shorewoodpackaging.com) with a vision in mind. "The band saw this as an opportunity to give fans something that has never been done before," explains Lawrence.

The band saw this as an opportunity to give fans something that has never been done before.

Each package in the set incorporates a hinged box with a "leather"-bound similarity to a hardcover book. The outer box secures the CDs in a protective Digipak(R) foldout from AGI Media (www.digipak.com) that seats the four discs individually within clear plastic, thumb-notched holders.

The outer bookstyle or "cigar-type" box is die-cut with a thumb notch that permits access to the CDs and other contents that chronicle "the Crüe's" work from 1981 to 1987, including demos, live recordings, alternative mixes and solos. The box also encloses a 60-page booklet that's filled with photos illustrating the band members' headline-grabbing escapades over the years as well as an illustrated mini comic book and a large, two-side-printed poster.

The compilation of CDs represents Mötley Crüe's entire body of work, so the band envisioned a package design that would represent the boldness and brashness of heavy metal, the band members' images within the genre and—like the music itself—one that would command attention in stores and at home.

But Santa Monica, CA-based Universal/Hip-O says the packaging also had to be durable. Since it closes and folds like a book, the spines and foldable portions especially had to resist "whitening" and wear. In addition, the artists wanted the packaging to be made of a material that could simulate high-quality leather without the investment of leather, yet not look "overly simulated." They also wanted to extend the same look and feel to the inner disc holders to create a cohesive design throughout the package.

As the boxmaker for the CD set, Shorewood Packaging had the task of turning the artists' vision into a reality. While it sounded fairly straightforward, the project could have been a tall order, admits Shorewood's account executive Dustin Wills. "It was groundbreaking to get the wrap on the outside box to exactly match the one on the inner package. That's nearly impossible, due to manufacturing constraints," he says. "But we're committed to achieving the look our customers seek."

Packaging options for large CD sets often include more traditional plastic jewel boxes or paperboard structures that are flexible enough to be folded and shaped. But according to Wills, this application required extreme durability and a much thicker boardstock. "It just wasn't possible to get existing, highly decorative materials to bend and fold without chipping, fraying or wearing," he says. "Most of the decorative paperboards can be thick and aren't flexible enough to resist cracking and peeling at the folds."

Shorewood found an alternative from FiberMark. "We gave FiberMark our challenge, and they came back to me with an amazing solution—something no one else has accomplished before," Wills says.

When Godiva Chocolatier launched a new line of chocolate truffles, it selected a luxurious box wrap from FIBERMARK to entice selective chocolate lovers. Read about it at www.packagingdigest.com/ info/godiva

FiberMark selected an option from its line of duplex packaging materials, known as Pellaq by Skivertex(R), which combines a .010 Latex-saturated, turned-edge cover paper, embossed with a reptile pattern called Iguana that looks and feels like lizard skin. Often used in publishing, the glossy, simulated leather comes in a range of high-end reptile patterns.

FiberMark's facility in Lowville, NY, converts the Skivertex material in sheets for Shorewood, embossing the lizard-skin pattern using rollers with an etched grain. The turned-edge paper is also coated in black and is top-coated with a high-gloss, acrylic coating to customize it with a shiny, patent-leather finish.

Shorewood uses the Pellaq by Skivertex Iguana material in two ways. To make the Digipak structure, the material is adhesive-laminated to a .012 fiberboard, vat-dyed in black, which provides esthetics, strength and durability. The total thickness of the adhesive lamination for the inner Digipak foldout is .022. To make the bookstyle outer box, Shorewood laminates the turned-edge wrap material to a .042 chipboard, which is then die-cut and glued. For an added bookmaker's touch, Shorewood hand-affixes a black lift-pull ribbon to the base of the hinged box, using an aggressive, permanent adhesive. The ribbon facilitates removal of the inner Digipak, literature and other contents.

The back panel of the outer box is also tipped-in—or slightly debossed—in the label-panel area to facilitate alignment of a large, pressure-sensitive paper label (sourced locally through Shorewood) that showcases the burning car scene that supports the CD set's title.

The bold label and literature graphics include colorful, fiery imagery depicting a car crashing through flames. The spine of the box is hot-stamped in silver foil and one of three second colors that corresponds to the particular CD volume. The Mötley Crüe logo is also foil-embossed in silver on the front panel so that the band's name is spelled out when all three boxed volumes are displayed next to each other.

It was groundbreaking to get the wrap on the outside box to exactly match the one on the inner package. That's nearly impossible, due to manufacturing constraints.

Shorewood produces the Digipak foldout as an AGI licensee. It completely covers the four-panel foldout with the black lizard Skivertex material and hot-stamps the exterior and the spine of the foldout with the band's logo in silver foil. Shorewood then assembles the package and ships it to Universal in Grover, NC, where the CDs are replicated and further readied for distribution.

According to Hip-O, sales of the CD have exceeded expectations, and online "fanzines" have raved about the packaging. The band has sold more than 40 million albums, produced more than four Top Ten Singles, has had some of the biggest, most successful tours and has played to at least 30 million fans.

Shorewood also gets a bonus, says Wills. "FiberMark has created a way to take an embossed, ten-point sheet, laminate it to a coordinating twelve-point board, making [the end product] twenty-two points in total, which easily converts into a rigid package. We can now move to a whole universe of coordinating or contrasting base materials and color options. From a production planning standpoint, we like the option of receiving box materials from a single source, which minimizes waste, saves a production step and expedites the entire delivery process. We are extremely pleased with the results," he tells PD. "We now we have an option that we can bring to other customers who are trying to break away from the usual constraints."

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