Killer app: Americk and Amberley brew up 57 tartan varieties

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Monday 23 February 2015

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To coincide with last month’s Burns Night celebrations, Scottish drinks manufacturer AG Barr embarked on a £1m campaign to promote its Irn-Bru brand, which saw two-litre and 500ml bottles of the carbonated soft drink sold in limited edition packs decorated with 57 clan tartan designs that covered the top 100 most common Scottish surnames.


What did the job entail? 

After having previously worked together on another major variable data digital print project, Enniskillen-based reel-fed label manufacturer Americk Webtech teamed up with Blandford-based Amberley Labels to bring the Irn-Bru project to life.

The quantities to be produced of each tartan were determined by research carried out by AG Barr to identify the most prevalent Scottish surnames. An orange and blue Irn-Bru tartan was also created for customers with names that don’t have an associated tartan. “Scottish surnames fall into different clans, so although there are 100 names there aren’t 100 different tartans,” said Amberley Labels technical director Richard Geller.

How was it produced?

Amberley Labels took the Irn-Bru artwork, put it through repro and carried out the personalisation work using Esko Graphics pre-press software. It then printed the labels onto reels of unsupported polypropylene film (which was supplied by Americk Webtech) using its HP Indigo WS6600 digital press. Americk Webtech then took the printed reels, slit out any waste and then applied varnish to the material to ensure that bottle production could take place at optimum speed once the labels arrived at AG Barr. More than 7m labels were produced in total.

What challenges were overcome?

The logistics of handling a job of such a major scale was the biggest challenge for Amberley Labels. “Digital is usually used to produce a few hundred metres. For jobs like this, tens of thousands of metres, it’s about handling the sheer volumes, moving it round your factory and running your press for that amount of time, six days a week for two weeks, flat out for 24 hours a day,” said Geller.

What was the feedback?

Americk Webtech technical manager Paul Morris said: “The quality of the print was perfect and everyone at AG Barr seemed to be very happy with it.”

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