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His packaging gets our creative juices flowing

Manohar Packaging Pvt Ltd has been a trendsetter when it comes to packaging and labelling.
Aditya Patvardhan, Director, has always believed in installing the best and youngest proven technology money can buy. But no amount of technology can fix a really bad design, he cautions.

His creative understanding of the packaging, labeling and closures industry is inspiring. As he himself puts it, if he were a dreamer, his wish would be an evolution from the dark market taboo industry status in India. A pragmatist once said, the next, is always yet to come! Don’t Blend In. Stand Out. Aditya Patvardhan, Director, Manohar Packaging Pvt Ltd, (MPPL), puts it succinctly when he says: “Most small to mid-size producers don’t really care about the techniques we deploy. We suggest what would be best suited for each artwork creative to bring it to life with the most appeal and volume as demanded by the TG and defined by clients. The process at MPPL is rather different and we deploy the best print and finish techniques money can buy, from a palette that speaks of the world’s best technology partners, mills, and ink magicians.


Experience Speaks

With the larger, national grid marketeers, the decision on tech deployment is more a matter of scalability, supply chain management and the likes. Defined Cogs. So, for example, a Sterling Reserve vs a No.1 Whisky vs a Black Dog vs a Grants Distinction vs a Bagpiper Whisky would all play to different cards. “What we provide is not just ink on paperboard. There’s a lot more that goes into the development of a new alcobev brand at the MPPL services vertical. And yes, backed by manufacturing, of course.” Are Indian companies coming out of their comfort zones? MPPL is to serve 70 million cases worth of beverage alcohol packaging to Indian companies. And they have been associated with the alcobev industry for over four decades now, so they speak from experience. When asked if times have changed, Aditya is quick to retort, “yes, a whole lot.” But within a shorter horizon, he believes the roller coaster ride has just begun. This is just the tip of the iceberg, he feels. Talking of Sterling Reserve whiskies, he says: “A million cases were sold in a short time span of nine months. I believe that’s the fastest ramp up in the history of beverage alcohol. That’s nine million liters of liquid gold. “ABD just redefined the rules of the game, and a few in the industry would deny that these champions look outstanding, and this did play a significant role, backed by a team of high energy stalwarts. They changed the palette, but still cracked the formula. Purples and blues, with lustrous matte’s and carefully selected hues. Truly, one of the most fun rides to market and challenging projects we’ve taken on. The ramp up story is truly commendable.”

Giving more examples, Aditya reveals Radico is about to roll out some really innovative work down south on Morpheus Blue. Again, “it is a team willing to experiment a bit, risk it a bit, but were determined and believed in the need to think out of the box.” He goes on to says that Diageo is also one of the best in the innovation game. They’ve changed the face of USL’s stalwarts, and upped their value chain. The work they do on GWP’s and special editions is stuff legends are made off. They wrote the bible on promo packs. “There is lots to learn from them both in India and abroad. Jane & White Walker are stellar and tick all the boxes.”

Independent Players

Another kind of work that gets MPPL’s creative juices flowing is the stuff that the independents are doing. These owners are gen-next, younger, Ivy League grads, far more exposed, and withrelatively fewer cares in the world, most of whom work in smaller entry cost markets to learn the ropes. He excitedly shares about people like Goutam Menon, India’s Rumbassador and creator of Wild Tiger r-um and Rahul Mehra who wove magic with Stranger & Sons/Svami tonic/ Gateway Brewing. He says Aman Thadani of Fullarton is about to launch Wood Burnsa stellar contemporary Indian whisky with PPM levels right up there; Ashwin Balivada is a crafty young next gen Cambridge lad back in town. Trust Aditya when he says the big boys’ club includes Udai at Brima with a young, funky Friends revamp and a sharp sophisticated Barrister by Peter Scot. Deepak at Som Group creating Legends and Hunters, he gushes. Viraat at ADS is doing a double whammy take on a blue, and so much exciting stuff, it can make one Royal Green with Envy. So many of the next gen kin of legacy distributors are now brand owners oflate, too.

Original Work

He says all these fine strapping gents will very soon make a marked difference to the retail theater. “I foresee a rather vibrant landscape in the years to come. Hopefully,post then at least we may aspire to have me-too of more original work.” He also says that there’s the flipside case theory,  showcasing lack of general ingenuity in the industry. Bira did a monkey, Grants did a monkey shoulder. “Lo and behold, we got enquiries from around six marketeers with some form of primal homo sapien in a span of one year. All well caricatured and with sunglasses, mind you.” Herein lies the inhererent problem. It is a distribution business in the hinterland, not a brand business. So, it works as long as your packaging is shiny He says Wood Burns Contemporary Indian whisky was born last week. An oversized offering pack that was integrated from design to market by MPPL. “I have a good feeling about this one,” he says.

Technology Upgrades

As for technology upgrades, MPPL always believed in installing the best and youngest/proven technology money can buy at the time of commissioning as a primal mantra. “We’re running large format offset. Flexo, Gravure, Screen, Letter press for ink to paper, with plenty of post print gear to garnish. “Design first, technology later is still my personal belief though. Get the basics right. No amount of technology can fix a really bad design.” When asked to throw light on the latest developments, Aditya reveals: “India is neck to neck on cutting edge technology in most mass packaging parlance speak. The innovation Grand Cru’s in the packaging sphere world over (mainly Europe/UK/ America’s and global duty free) would be the special editions and promos. Dom Perignon’s light up, Bombay Sapphire’s Christmas editions, Edington’s new art nuveau masterpieces, the whole augmented reality overkill, are all possible here too.” However, the kind of marketing budgets allocated to special projects in India are not sufficient to deploy them locally as the marketplace for these technologies is not that easily expandable, So essentially, the brand owners are footing the entire development cost, that can run into several double-digit lacs upwards on the really big ones like luminescence and PE, on many a project as this.

“Things like RFID, smart packaging, supply chain data integration on pack etc, were generated out of demand by Uncle Sam and his big guns in major retail. The sheer volumes and fragmentation of markets in what will never be a singular Indian liquor market has a lot to play in the reason why the big bangers cannot be that easily rolled out in India.” On changes in the next five years, he says, “Consolidation of beverage alcohol companies, and fragmentation of beverage alcohol consumers.”