At its peak Ultimate Digital was printing up to 8,000 personalised chocolate bar wrappers each week as part of the high profile KitKat personalised pack promotion.
The promotion involved a consumer finding a lucky voucher in a standard four-fingered bar and redeeming this by loading a photo and brief message to a website. This becomes the artwork for the one-off wrapper around a standard KitKat bar. It is then packed into a protective box and mailed to the winner. The final stage is that the winner broadcasts his or her good fortune on Facebook, Instagram and other social media.
Haseeb Rahman, Nestlé’s business unit head for KitKat and biscuits, says: “This promotion taps into the current trend for personalisation,giving consumers the chance to win a personalised Four Finger pack for themselves, a friend or loved one. More than 56,000 unique personalised packs will be on offer in the prize promotion. The campaign has been backed with a £1 million media budget across digital and social media.”
The promotion also taps into the power of Ultimate’s HP Indigo web presses. The company has both a 6000 series machine and the first Indigo 20000 in the UK. But the key factor has been its Smartflow workflow. This was developed at Ultimate as a web to print solution to link the internet to the Esko Rip that is part of the HP front end for the packaging presses.
“We have used it on other smaller projects in the UK,” says executive director Chris Tonge. “We have started to offer it as a workflow and able to interact with a customer’s front end, controlling everything through to supply and fulfilment.”
Nestlé is responsible for collecting the images and slogans, rejecting any that are deemed inappropriate. These are sent to Ultimate which adds a tracking code to identify each image with the submitted address. When 7,000 have been gathered, the job is printed on the substrate that is used on standard KitKat bars with cold seal and release lacquers applied and supplied to the factory in York where the highly automated line used for conventional production is not disrupted.
Quality control systems would normally reject any non compliant artwork so must be overridden, but robots continue to loads the bars to boxes.
The wrapped bars are returned to Ultimate in Grimsby where the codes are scanned, calling up the image from the website to be checked against that on the wrapper. An address label is generated for each presentation box and the boxes sorted for the post. The code will also trigger an email to the recipient to say that their unique bar has been dispatched.
Before the project could reach this stage, Ultimate had to prove it was possible to print on the right material, in the right colour and that the workflow technology was resilient. This meant ensuring that four colour inks and a white would match the distinctive brand colour and that the web interface would work. It can print the wrappers on either of the HP Indigo presses.
At this point Nestlé needed to keep the project under wraps resulting in 32 Ultimate staff loading images to the site and following through the process. It worked. “These images could only be seen by us and Nestlé,” says Tonge. “It had to be as secure as possible with no third parties involved.”
While Ultimate has been involved in several personalisation projects, this is the most high profile to date and will Tonge hopes lead on to others. The company is not he stresses, interested in printing the standard KitKat wrappers. “We are not interested in that sort of volume.
“We want to do exciting things linked to digital, perhaps including augmented reality. Personalisation is just the start. We have started to print watermarks and we can create the content that changes as consumers scan a pack.”
This will involve creating a seamless integration with a brand’s website and identity, but delivering a complete tailored solution that can handle the data processing, the workflow and crucially the fulfilment. “We are already a lot more than just print,” says Tonge. “We want to be in position to develop the concept and deliver the contract.”
To this end, the company is planning a digital academy to work with students from local colleges on creating projects that appeal to their peer groups. This will avoid problems about how to keep projects fresh and provide real experience for students. “The chal- lenge for colleges is how to get their students into a commercial environment,” he explains.
In the longer term this will be vital as brands engage directly with customers more and more, culminating in home delivery. This is forecast to reach 20% by 2025 says Tonge.
In the meantime, Kitkat is starting to make the break. “It’s fantastic to be involved in such a high profile digital personalisation project for such an iconic Nestlé brand. Now the first packs are starting to arrive with customers, I am sure the social media campaign will really start to gain momentum.”
And KitKat brand manager Stephanie Scales adds: “It has been really great working with the Ultimate Digital team. It was clear from the start they were experts in digital print and their Smartflow and their in-house packing and distribution has helped Nestlé deliver probably the most complicated campaign we have attempted. The up take by customers to personalise their packs and activity on social media has been excellent but now its should start to really happen.”
Ultimate Digital was able to use its HP Indigo web presses to print personalised packs for KitKat, using imagery uploaded by finders of a designated pack. After printing the packaging was loaded on the main wrapping line with cameras that normally pick out packs that deviate from the accepted standard, switched off. The wrapped bars were returned to Ultimate and matched with name and address of each winner before being sent out in a presentation pack.