A Supplier’s Ambitious Interactive Game Combines Packaging, Labels and Experiential Online Marketing—and Highlights the Limitless Potential of Print
What’s the best way to showcase modern online marketing methods and the latest advances in packaging and labeling products? A fictional murder mystery set in the 1920s, of course.
If that made you do a double take, well, that’s what Repacorp Inc. was counting on. Early in the pandemic, the Tipp City, Ohio-based converter of labels and tags, RFID, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging wanted to keep its brand top of mind and showcase the exciting capabilities of its products. More importantly, it wanted to do something different—something that would offer a diversion from all the bad news circulating on the internet.
An interactive murder mystery is certainly different. Repacorp had been sitting on the idea for a while, with a title and storyline held over from a shelved project, but here was an opportunity to bring it to life. The company quickly settled on an ambitious plan: It would update the story and characters, then use the murder mystery concept to create an immersive experiential marketing campaign showing its resellers how packaging can build a relationship between brands and customers.
“First and foremost, we wanted to develop an experiential game to strengthen and build Repacorp’s brand,” said Pat Larson, marketing manager for Repacorp. “We wanted it to be fun, diverse and interactive to increase followers on social media, increase website hits and to have more people recognize and remember Repacorp. Secondly, we wanted to show resellers how to use labels and packaging in an experiential marketing campaign to boost their customers’ sales. And finally, we wanted that campaign to engage the resellers’ customers and provide them with an example of what they could develop.”
Using its storyline and characters, Repacorp created social media posts and built a dedicated website (www.48westcottlane.com, the fictional site of the murder). The company sent an email to resellers announcing the game and directing them to the instructions page on the site. To play, resellers would simply have to look for clues posted weekly to the website and Repacorp’s social media channels. Repacorp revealed character backstories in the form of 1920s newspaper clippings and released “police reports” and “detective findings” as the game progressed. The game would run from March to October. Once Repacorp posted the last clue, followers could submit their guesses for a chance to win an iPad.
Repacorp’s main goal, though, was to show resellers how to use packaging and labels as components of a larger and more effective multichannel marketing campaign for their customers. The murder mystery was proof of concept demonstrating where printed products fit and how to use them in an engaging way. Repacorp printed each of its murder mystery characters on sample shrink sleeves featuring a different clue or information about the character, encouraging the (hypothetical) consumer to collect them all. It also produced flexible packaging pouches that could serve as promotional samples a customer could distribute as part of the campaign.
“Having the pouching ability in-house allowed me to create samples of zippered pouches for our game,” said Chad Wyckoff, marketing manager for Repacorp. “I was able to print different clues on the back of each pouch to deepen the storyline. After our resellers played the game and understood experiential marketing, we wanted them to be able to show their customers how to turn their customers’ labels and packaging into experiences. Therefore, we purposely kept the website www.48westcottlane.com unbranded. Our shrink sleeve and pouch samples with the characters and clues are also unbranded. Resellers can use the website and samples to help their customers understand and explore experiential marketing without divulging the manufacturer.”
If Repacorp was aiming for proof of concept, well, the campaign hit the bullseye. Over the course of the game’s run from March to October, the company’s social media engagement increased by 96%. Its website was visited 1.2 million times, with 357,457 unique visitors. It had followers in 16 countries playing along. The game was such a hit that Repacorp is planning another game for 2021. And while Larson promised it won’t require quite as much brainwork, it will feature more printed samples, these showcasing some cutting-edge printing capabilities. (Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to play.)
“In today’s culture, customers are hungry for unique, fun brand experiences that deliver results,” said Larson. “As a print reseller, you sell products such as labels, tags, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging. But what the consumer really buys are experiences and relationships. Your customers need a print partner that deeply understands their business and can bring strategic thinking and creativity to the table.”