Watershed spooks ale fans with sinister sleeve

Max Goldbart
Monday, November 7, 2016

Watershed Packaging has been producing shrink sleeves for a number of years, with high-profile clients including Smirnoff and Deo-Go. But it has never delved into the beer market until now.

Popular Marston’s ale Hobgoblin markets itself as the quintessential Halloween beer and when Marston’s required a printer for the shrink sleeves of its Hobgoblin Halloween range of ales, it turned to Watershed for help.

What did the job entail?

The sleeves were shrunk onto 2.8 million bottles of ale, one half on the bottle of the traditional Hobgoblin ruby dark ale and the other half on a limited edition gold ale. Watershed sales director Richard Cutworth said the sleeves gave the Hobgoblins more “shelf-appeal”. The job took place in the middle of August ready for the bottles to hit the shelves at the beginning of September.

How was it produced?

The 75-staff company, which has two sites, one in Leeds and one in Blackwood, South Wales, printed the sleeves on its eight-colour UV flexo printer using a high-shrink PET film. 

Watershed was heavily involved with the design process as the artwork had to be pre-distorted to compensate for the shrinkage. It produced around 10 mock-ups on a digital press to show the client before printing. Sleeve application was carried out by Normanton-based Yorkshire Bottle Solutions.

What challenges were overcome?

“The trial process was essential in establishing the correct dimensions of the sleeve prior to the full production run,” said Cutworth.

“This was a real challenge because Marston’s wanted the sleeve to go right up to the cap but for that to be as precise as possible is actually quite difficult, you have quite a distance between when the sleeve shrinks right into the neck area and above.”

Cutworth also said that in order to avoid scuffing, finding the right grade of film was difficult, it needed to be slightly thicker and slightly more durable than normal.

What was the feedback?

Hobgoblin senior brand manager Joanne Wyke said: “It’s gone really well. We could have done with starting it a bit earlier but Watershed was very thorough with the design and print and it has been really successful for us.”

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