Home > NewsRelease > #106 Truly Terrible Packaging (and How to Fix It)
#106 Truly Terrible Packaging (and How to Fix It)
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Tuesday, August 25, 2020



#106 Blog Post — Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Posted by Denny Hatch 


A Textbook Case of Truly Terrible Packaging!

 (And How to Fix It) 

When Covid-19 hit, the powerful message shouted over-and-over by scientists and experts was these 3 stark warnings:

1. Always wear a face mask when you leave home.

2. If you don't wear a face mask, you could inadvertently kill people. 

3. Close contact with persons not wearing a face mask could kill you… and kill members of your family.

After trying myriad face masks—from face-pinching little n95s to gifts from friends sewn from warn-out polo shirts—Peggy finally ordered the above box of disposables. She chose well.

Terrific Masks!  Alas, you’d Never Know It from the Box They Came in.

• The picture of the mask is a strange faded water-color-like drawing.

• All the features and benefits are in unreadable 4-point mouse type.

• Other copy is in teeny-tiny white type reversed out on light blue backgrounds.

• The contents of the box are described as a big “50” in faded urine yellow.

• 50 what? 50 Pcs. What is Pc?

• How many pcs to a mask? If 2 pcs, that’s 25 masks. Yes? Huh?

Okay. I Redesigned the Box Top. Not Elegant—But... With Everything Needed to Help Make an Informed Decision.

• Crisp photo of the Mask. You know exactly what it looks like.

• All features and benefits are easy-to-read—10-poinrt or 12-point type.

• “50 Masks” in big black readable type. (Not “50 Pcs”)

• I added one short line of “selling” copy:  

Heavy Duty, Wonderfully Light Weight.

Another Example of Lousy Packaging—Vinyl Gloves 

I bought this box of vinyl gloves from the little store across the square. I wear them when I grocery shop.

Look at the benefits and features above left in teeny-tiny white type on a light green background. Impossible to read! Translation:


          100 Vinyl Gloves

          100 Guantes Vinilo

          Non-Sterile / Powder Free

          Not Made With Natural Rubber Latex

In white mouse-type on the bottom of the box I discovered where this product came from: Made in China.

These disposable gloves are perfectly okay. But why rely on Asian designers that don’t know any better… who go for “pretty” rather than supplying critical, easy-to-read, helpful information?

This is nuts! 

Takeaways to Consider

• Product packaging has two purposes:

  1. To keep the elements from spilling onto the store floor.
  2. To include all the information needed to make an informed buying decision without seeing the actual product.

• A good, sharp photograph of the product is essential.

• Features and benefits should be in large, bold easy-to-read type.

• Package designers should make sure when the photo of the box is reduced in size for use in an ad—or featured in a catalog—the main benefits are still readable.

• Ideas for the sides and bottom of the box:

—Testimonials from happy customers.

—Ratings/reviews from experts and rating services.

—Guarantee of Satisfaction signed by the company president.

“Short words! Short sentences! Short paragraphs! —Andrew J. Byrne

“Type smaller than 9-point is difficult for most people to read.” —David Ogilvy

“Never set your copy in white type on a black background and never set it over a gray or colored tint. The old school of art directors believed that these devices forced people to read the copy; we now know that they make reading physically impossible.” —David Ogilvy


Word count: 533


 You Are Invited to Meet Denny Hatch: http://dennyhatch.blogspot.com/2020/03/87-geezer-fast-yoga.html

At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


Denny Hatch
The St. James
200 West Washington Square, #3007
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-644-9526 (Rings on my desk) 

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