Shape Shifters

Multipurpose packaging fills dual roles for consumers

Young consumers are looking for product packaging to help set brands and product experiences apart, taking them to a new level. Lately this trend has taken a particularly digital bent, often leveraging consumers’ devices to turn basic boxes and wrappers into high-tech tools. This is just one way brands are catering to the Optimization Generation, helping people streamline and get more from less.


Knowing that music inspires creativity in young people, McDonald’s restaurants in the Netherlands debuted McTrax, a placemat that doubles as a recording studio. The “device” is created on a simple paper placemat that has been printed with connective ink that reacts to touch. It pairs with the diner’s phone for musical output and also to allow for recording customized vocals. By tapping different sections of the mat, users can choose pre-recorded tracks, create their own beats with a synth, and tweak sounds with special effects. The end result is professional-grade tunes created with just a piece of paper that restaurant visitors can take home to use whenever they’re feeling inspired.


KFC Canada created a clever campaign to take advantage of the increase in traffic it sees on Mother’s Day when families encourage moms to put their feet up and let someone else handle dinner for a change. The chain added a specially designed lid to the bucket of chicken that came with its Mother’s Day Feast family meal. Beneath the mom-specific greeting on the surface was a device similar to that in a recordable greeting card. By holding down a button, family members were able to dictate their own special messages for their moms. Assuming everyone could keep their greasy fingers off the lid, it doubles as a custom keepsake.


McTrax isn’t McDonald’s’ only foray into dual-purpose packaging. In Sweden, diners who order a Happy Meal can use the meal’s container to fold together a pair of Happy Goggles. The Google Cardboard-like unit simply requires a cell phone to be slipped inside its chamber to take users on a VR adventure. With the launch of Happy Goggles, the company has also created an introductory game, “Se Upp I Backen,” known as “Slope Stars” in English, which has players dodging obstacles as they hurtle down an Alpine ski course. No need to hop on a plane to Sweden to try Happy Goggles: the company suggests the program may roll out to other countries.