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Graphic Communication Students Win Phoenix Challenge Packaging Competition

Students from Cal Poly's winning Phoenix Challenge team
Students from Cal Poly's winning Phoenix Challenge team

Cal Poly graphic communication students were the 2016 overall champions for their point of purchase (POP) display, wedge-shaped beverage container, and shrink sleeve at the Phoenix Challenge Flexo Packaging Competition in March.

The Phoenix Challenge is a yearlong project in which students help a local company rebrand and market its business with materials using the flexographic print process — a technique that uses a flexible plate to print on a variety of materials. The Cal Poly team competed with nine other schools in Fort Worth, Texas.

Nicholas Azevedo, Isabella Baldwin, Aislinn Bryan, Natalie Jones, Lindsay Mitchell, Leeanne Morris, Reina Stephenson and team captain Hannah Giorgi spent the last academic year brainstorming, researching, printing and preparing for this competition.

The Cal Poly Phoenix Challenge Team

The Cal Poly Phoenix Challenge Team

Giorgi said, “Winning the entire competition was obviously very rewarding, but being able to lead a team of seven amazing individuals and become close with each person was the most rewarding. Even though we had some challenging and stressful periods during our competition, we all became very close friends and we still hang out even though the competition is over.”

This year, Cal Poly’s team chose to work with a local family startup called B.R.A.T., that makes medicinal beverages based on the pediatrician-recommended diet for an upset stomach, which consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Working with owners Greg and Ilsa Toepfer, students helped the company re-brand the packaging of the product to include an attractive POP display, a convenient child-sized wedge drink container, and an adult-sized 16-ounce bottle with a shrink sleeve.

The shrink sleeve includes a QR code that links consumers to a blog and a redesigned, student-coded website. Since B.R.A.T. is also a beverage recommended for adults who, for example, are going through chemotherapy, the blog offers a sense of community for consumers.

A game for children is printed on the wedge container in photo luminescent ink, which glows in the dark. The game allows children to engage with the brand while drinking the product.

The POP includes a small wireless sensor that uses blue-tooth low-energy (BLE) to transmit digital coupons and information about the company to consumers’ smartphones.  BLE is a “one to many” technology that allows customers to opt-in to receive discounts or to engage in different company offers.

“We were completely honored when Cal Poly chose our company for the Phoenix Challenge competition,” said Ilsa Toepfer. “It has been amazing to watch the young, talented and creative minds give our B.R.A.T. drinks a fresh new look. We are excited to see our brand reach new heights as we move forward in launching the drinks using this new packaging,. A great big thank you and congratulations to the Cal Poly graphic communication team!”

Giorgi concluded, “Phoenix Challenge was one of the most formative experiences of my college career and it is the epitome of Learn by Doing. When you are part of the Cal Poly Phoenix Challenge team, you not only get experience with long-term team work, but you also get invaluable industry experience and contacts.” 

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