Going Gaga Over Printing Arts’ Promo Kit

by Lara Copeland, assistant editor, PostPress

Mattel’s Chicago-based Public Relations firm and the Monster High product development team called upon Printing Arts, Broadview, Illinois, to help design and package a promotion kit in preparation for the Lady Gaga-inspired Monster High doll’s October 2016 debut.

More than 50 years ago, toy-maker giant Mattel introduced the world to what would soon become the figurehead of its company – Barbie. The 11.5″ plastic doll, that first wore a zebra-striped swimsuit and donned a brunette or blonde top-knot ponytail, has towered over the toy industry through the decades. More recently, however, a new variety of doll inspired by sci-fi thrillers and monster movies has been embraced by today’s youth. The aptly named Monster High dolls pose a striking difference in appearance to their wholesome predecessor – think goth teen as opposed to teenaged fashion model. Because of their cutting-edge appearance, the dolls have been marketed as modern and relatable and many consider them to be a representation of diversity.

A symbol that celebrates differences, the Monster High doll collection inspired American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga to create a doll in her likeness to benefit her non-profit foundation, Born This Way (BTW). Mattel’s Chicago-based Public Relations firm and the Monster High product development team called upon Printing Arts, Broadview, Illinois, to help design and package a promotion kit in preparation for the doll’s October 2016 debut.

Originally, the PR firm asked for the promo kit’s box to be shaped like sunglasses, but after completing the first round of designs in this manner, Printing Arts found it to be too costly to be executed. As a solution, the company presented a structure in the shape of a triangle, which also is Lady Gaga’s hallmark symbol used in her “Born This Way” music video. From there, Director of Marketing Services Doug Still explained, “Our structural designers followed cues from this symbol,” and they created a puzzle box featuring imagery that reflected the desired look, feel and attitude. Pictured on the front of the box is a sketch of “Zomby GaGa” blowing a pink bubble with her gum and sporting a pair of thick, black framed glasses – an appearance that closely resembles Lady Gaga in her “Born This Way” video. Instead of the box being shaped like sunglasses, the kit included two pairs of sunglasses in addition to an informational 4×4″ postcard and two packs of “Gaga Gum.”

The intricate design of the puzzle box proved to be a challenge during construction, and, due to the complexity of the box folds, the client opted for Printing Arts to execute the layouts. “The biggest hurdle we faced in production was the crossovers on the three-cornered triangle box,” Still clarified. “Getting the pieces to diecut, fold and glue with reasonable line-up of the graphics was rather challenging.”

The foil application and printing/coating were performed on a MAN Roland 700 8-color UV offset press equipped with the Prindor cold foil unit. A spot adhesive was printed first and then Kurz Silver cold foil was applied with a 4-color process, and an overall gloss UV coating covered the graphics. “We decorated the package using a spot cold foil application; most areas of pink, as well as highlights in the doll’s silver hair and sunglasses, received the foil effect,” Still confirmed. To avoid the foil effect being overused, he noted that Printing Arts was cautious when applying foil to the duplexed 24-point SBS. This substrate was used in lieu of a rigid box/wrap because “it improved our speed-to-market and lowered project costs,” he recalled.

Once the box was diecut, hand assembled and glued, 600 packs of bubblegum were wrapped with a custom “GaGa Gum” label. The wrapper was created using a new digital foiler from Kurz Transfer Products called the DM Foiler. The wrapper was produced on an 80# gloss litho label. Still noted that the DM Foiler works in conjunction with the HP Indigo 6-color digital press. Spot Black toner was applied to the sheet designating where the foil would be applied, then the sheet went through the foiler for foil application and back to the Indigo for overprinting of the foil.

The success of the doll’s launch was due in part to its style and look being shrouded in mystery. Moreover, in the days leading up to the doll’s worldwide debut, “350 promo kits were sent to global publications and leading Gaga social media outlets,” Still said. The recipients then used social media to create a frenzy. They received a message asking them to take a selfie while wearing the sunglasses provided and blowing a bubble with the “GaGa Gum” included in the kit. Next, the recipients were asked to post their image or video to their social media accounts using the hash tag #kindmonsters.

“This strategy was to target the social media stars with the most followers in hopes of spreading the word about the doll’s worldwide debut in the shortest timeframe possible,” Still affirmed. He acknowledged that reactions were “superb,” and that “the client was very pleased with the response by social media and the overall buzz created.” In addition to this praise, the promotional kit won the Foil & Specialty Effects Association’s (FSEA) Gold Leaf award for best use of cold foil – folding carton (sheet or rotary).