On Packaging Digest // 9

On Clams Casino, Grillos x Rugrats, Tropicana, Neiman Marcus, and The Apartment

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Hey y’all,

Hope you’re having a great weekend and enjoying some nice weather! 

The Last Dance has had me thinking about the 90s, and to honor the final episodes tonight, the theme of this week’s digest is nostalgia.

Let me take you back…

Clams Casino: Back in the day, my favorite post-work activity was scouring hip hop blogs and Soundcloud for new artists and producers. My favorite find of all time is a producer who made beats from his mom’s attic in New Jersey and went by the name of Clams Casino.

After a few of his productions for Lil B and Soulja Boy gained attention, he released his instrumentals online. His beats were unlike anything I’d ever heard before, sampling female vocalists like Bjork and Imogen Heap to make ethereal beats that stood out like a sore thumb in the hip hop landscape at the time.

I’ll never forget this profile in The Fader, where he mentions that his girlfriend at the time thought that rappers were ruining his songs. I couldn't agree more. His beats stand on their own and are some of my favorite tracks for focus when working and studying.

This past week, his early instrumentals hit Spotify under an album titled Instrumental Relics. I’ve loved revisiting his tracks, and I really can’t recommend it enough if you need some fresh WFH-tunes. If there’s one song to start with, I recommend Motivation.

Grillo’s x Rugrats: Grillo’s pickles and Rugrats is the throwback collab I had no idea I needed! If you’re from the Boston area, you’re likely familiar with Grillo’s pickles. The batch we picked up last weekend had some familiar faces in the place of their typical pickle mascot.

If you weren’t a Nickelodeon kid and are wondering what the hell is going on here, the main character in Rugrats is Tommy Pickles (middle), so the collab is a play on his last name.

Looking into it, it seems Grillo’s did this for no reason other than to give people something to smile about, which makes me forgive them for every time I’ve spilled brine on my countertop when opening a fresh container.

I love this branding and am here for all the 90’s cartoon collabs out there. Someone, please work Hey Arnold into the mix!

The Worst Rebrand in History: On the other side of that coin is Tropicana’s rebrand from 2009. This profile chronicles the catastrophic failure of an agency’s attempt to modernize one of the most iconic logos in America.

I love the Tropicana logo, and always wanted to recreate the image of the straw puncturing the orange in real life. The small, single-serve cartons always felt like the closest way to get there, and I swear, having that visual in mind made the juice taste better.

Back in 2009, they worked with an agency to revamp their brand but ended up immediately losing $20M in sales. This is some of the strongest evidence you’ll find that branding matters.

Luxury was an Emotion: My first job out of college was at Neiman Marcus as an Assistant Buyer. While I had a hard time getting excited about merchandising, I generally enjoyed my time there, and have been following the company from afar ever since.

When they filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, it wasn’t very surprising. They’ve had issues with debt for a long time, and I’d been hearing whispers from old friends that the shelter-in-place orders would probably deliver the final blow.

A recent piece in GQ chronicles what made Neiman Marcus special, and what made their brand of luxury so different. From their Christmas catalog to the iconic Zodiac restaurant in their flagship store in downtown Dallas, Neimans has always been over the top. Whatever happens, they’ve earned their status as a legendary Texas institution.

Apartment: I hadn’t read a novel in far too long before finding Apartment by Teddy Wayne. On a 90’s nostalgia kick, I was sucked in by the setting. The nameless narrator is a student in the Columbia MFA program in New York in the era of Friends and Seinfeld. When he lets a classmate from the midwest move into his apartment, the dynamic creates fascinating complications.

The short book really captures the core of loneliness like nothing I’ve read before. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

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