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Blog | 06/06/2017 09:41:00

Three Olives: J.R. Cole Industries and UPM Raflatac help bottle up successful flavored vodka launch

Flavored liquors have been keeping spirits – and sales – high for distilleries and importers alike.

From 2007 to 2012, these products rose to constitute 26 percent of all volume sales in the U.S., according to Euromonitor International. So when Three Olives® cherry and grape vodkas developed cult-like followings, it was an easy decision for parent company Proximo Spirits to expand its line-up of flavored vodka products. Proximo is a fast-growing spirits company that also owns the world’s best-selling tequila line, Jose Cuervo.

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Putting a new label on an industry innovator

Obviously, Three Olives®’ packaging had to reinforce its reputation as a super-premium vodka maker. The vodka line’s glass bottles are tall and sinuous, etched for an arresting frosted appearance. So product labels would need to accentuate the bottle’s modern, elegant lines. r, the company offers refreshing spirited beverages for everyone.

Proximo turned to its label converter partner, J.R. Cole Industries, for help crafting a winning label solution. J.R. Cole had already helped Proximo make the transition from silk screening to pressure sensitive labels with Three Olives®’ three original flavors – classic, grape and cherry – in 2012 when the company acquired the brand from White Rock. Many spirits manufacturers have implemented pressure sensitive labels because of their branding potential, ability to create production efficiencies with inline decoration and application cleanliness. 

“You can do so many things with these labels. You can use films and specialty papers and really pack in the ink. It enables distilleries to get extremely creative with their packaging,” says Joe Richards, Vice President, Sales, J.R. Cole.

The shine of marketplace success

This wasn’t any ordinary branding assignment. The base label would need to gleam, just like the bottle showcasing the brand. It had to wrap 360-degrees around the bottle, with varnishes killed at the ends to provide a seamless overlap. It needed to accept inks well and resist scratching and smudging if bottles touched during shipping, handling or presentment on retail shelves. And the adhesive needed to provide short-term repositionability, in the event labels needed to be reapplied.

The J.R. Cole team, which included Justin, Joe and Phong Nguyen, Creative Director, knew that there were just two or three suppliers who could provide the pressure sensitive metalized paper they needed for a base label. And one of them was UPM Raflatac.

“We have a really good relationship with UPM Raflatac,” says Joe. “To be frank, the company has the best full product line in the spirits industry.” Agrees Phong: “If we have a new product, even if it’s just an idea, the UPM Raflatac team will sit down with us and say, “hey, we can make it happen”. When we got the Three Olives® opportunity, we talked with the team. We got samples that we tested that worked perfectly and that the client loved. Proximo picked the UPM Raflatac material for the Three Olives® launch, because it was the most attractive metalized paper, beat out all the competitors and gave them the visual effect they desired.”

Service that’s Engineered with the Raflatouch

Not only did UPM Raflatac deliver a beautiful label stock, SILVERVAC RP48AT 1.2 mil PET, that provided exceptional quality and performance, but the company could guarantee the volumes J.R. Cole and Proximo needed for the Three Olives® flavored vodka launch and ongoing sales. “About a year ago, we experienced a metalized paper shortage,” says Joe. “So it was really important that we could ensure a good supply of this product, because we use a lot of it with our spirits clients. UPM Raflatac is extremely reliable and dependable, whereas some of our other providers were not able to guarantee adequate supply.” UPM Raflatac’s reliability, adds Joe, isn’t just limited to providing high quality label stocks: The manufacturer also provides strong sales and technical support and fast shipping.

J.R. Cole staff worked with UPM Raflatac to create a beautiful brand image that performed well under pressure on the bottle. J.R. Cole uses screen printing and dome coating to create an image that has a satin feel and raised image, which ranges from conceptual images of fruit and chocolate to pop art-style imagery to instantly recognizable celebrity shots.

Positioning perfectly for the big buy

Equally importantly, the base label provides short-term repositionability and clean removal. If labels emerge from applicators askew, they can be reapplied perfectly to the bottle without any tearing or wrinkling. “We went through a learning curve when we applied the labels,” said Justin. “They needed to have an aggressive tack, but we were having difficulty removing misapplied labels so we could reuse the bottles. UPM Raflatac suggested a different spec that gave us about a minute of tack time so we could remove the label easily and apply another one. And removing a label doesn’t leave any residue on the bottle, which is important for brand appeal.” After that minute, the adhesive seals permanently, ensuring that the label won’t flag or fall off the bottle in the liquor store.