The toothpaste package
It’s not just the movies that are going 3D; print too is becoming more 3D in appearance, at least in certain areas.
To the casual observer, those round shiny blue blobs on the outside of this toothpaste package look slightly raised (my photography perhaps doesn’t them justice but, believe me, they look like real blobs). However, as soon as you touch them, it is apparent that the surface of the box, rather than being slightly raised, is in fact perfectly flat. It’s an optical illusion, one which is created by use of a special foil applied to that part of the print. I don’t know how they do it – it must be something to do with how the light is reflected – but the effect is to make it look slightly 3D.
It’s a nice effect but rather surprising perhaps to find it being used on something as humble as a cardboard box for a tube of toothpaste. Somehow I’d have expected to see it on something that attracts a lot of eyeballs, like a movie poster or a magazine cover, but there it is anyway. A toothpaste package.
It’s worth noting too the amount of work that’s gone into this package – not just the 3D effect but the ultra-fine print and the foiling, all designed to make it shimmer and shine. Just to sell some toothpaste. Typically, this type of finish is associated with ersatz-luxury items such as chocolate or wine, products that are regarded as discretionary purchases, non-essential but nice.
Perhaps there’s a connection too between this type of ‘bling’ print and oral gratification – something that offers a sweet taste or clean teeth. Cigarette packets are another example (at least until the introduction of plain packaging).
Hair shampoo and other beauty products also get this special treatment, highlighting how important print is as a medium in relation to the body and our own sense of self-image.