On ‘Animal Crackers’ Packaging Redesign: What Creative Execs Really Think
By: Mikelle Leow
After gripes from PETA that reportedly lasted more than three decades, Nabisco finally redesigned its iconic ‘Barnum’s Animals’ crackers box.
Seeing as how Americans grew up snacking on these cookies for generations, the response to the grand change has been bittersweet. Many applauded Nabisco’s parent brand, Mondelez, for taking its stance on animal cruelty, while others thought PETA was making a mountain out of a molehill.
In hindsight, the revamp bodes well for Nabisco. As consumers become more adamant about making informed choices, they’ll want to know what a brand stands for, be it about beauty or the environment. This sentiment seems to be shared by several executives from the creative industry.
In this DesignTAXI exclusive, leaders from four creative studios weigh in on the new packaging. Evidently, there’s a monkey-see-monkey-do effect among brands as they attempt to prove that they’re making a positive change, and that’s definitely a good thing—as long as they know what they’re doing.
Read some responses from industry experts below. What do you think of the animal crackers packaging redesign?
“Fantastic… the move is both right for the times and deeply tied to the brand’s equity.”
— Eavan Cleary, Design Director at Burns Group
“Established brands need to continuously explore the intersection of their enduring equities and the modern world. Society evolves, and brands need to evolve to be relevant. A genuine and even subtle nod to today’s consumers’ emotions and values can make a big difference.”
“Brands that can adapt and develop their creative to more deeply reflect their consumers’ interests, current events and relevant issues are seen as more inclusive and modern. That said, it needs to come from an authentic place—brands that inauthentically try to co-op a cultural movement or event will be punished by today’s savvy consumer.”
“Nabisco’s move to redesign the ‘Animal Crackers’ box was fantastic, showing that legacy brands are able to delightfully and successfully evolve to better reflect consumer values. The move is both right for the times and deeply tied to the brand’s equity. Free-range cookies for all!”
“Nabisco’s ‘Animal Crackers’ at their core stand for joy and enjoyment. For a time in society’s eyes, so did circuses, so it made sense…”
— Michael Wachs, Chief Creative Officer at GYK Antler
“Nabisco is smart to avoid the pitfalls that so many brands fall into: eschewing relevance for stability. While consistency is key for a brand, what is more important is how you serve your audience. How you remain useful, necessary and aligned with their needs. From this vantage, the question shifts from whether or not they should change a nostalgic visual element to what they should remain loyal and consistent to.”
“Successful brands who have a strong understanding of their positioning, reason for existence and how they add value to a consumer’s life don’t view change as an obstacle, but rather a way to reinvigorate themselves and remain in the service of their consumers.”
“Nabisco’s ‘Animal Crackers’ at their core stand for joy and enjoyment. For a time in society’s eyes, so did circuses, so it made sense to borrow their equity to promote their brand. But our world evolves, and as a society we have redefined what the circus means to us as parents, environmentalists and patrons. For Nabisco to ignore that in favor of stability or nostalgia when it does not align with the core of their brand would be to do so at their own peril.”
“Your brand represents what you care about as a company.”
— Alex Sturtevant, Global Director of Brand at Stink Studios
“To be impactful, a change in branding does not need to be dramatic. Your brand represents what you care about as a company, so making sure that your public image aligns with your core values is critical. Every last detail of brand creative is important, so paying attention to each of these details shows you are considered a brand entity on the whole.”
“Making a brand inclusive must be different for each brand. A brand creative can't be everything to everyone, but it must be everything to your brand.”
“The update is a great move—an iconic brand must flex and grow with the culture at large or else it becomes a relic.”
“The composition, colors and overall illustration keeps with the nostalgic feel of the brand’s history, while making it relevant for today’s consumers.”
— Eric Lobb, Executive Creative Director at Standard Black
“This rebrand is a huge improvement overall, as a lot of times these rebrands don’t go as planned. The composition, colors and overall illustration keeps with the nostalgic feel of the brand’s history, while making it relevant for today’s consumers. It’s a no brainer that oppression is unjust—whether it’s of human or our four-legged friends, period. And it’s insensitive to think we should accept chains and cages in a playful way; these are serious images, especially in today’s world.”
As a society, we are finally waking to the current social environment and are starting to lead from the bottom up, which in turn is impacting brands. I will say, though, that brands can be doing more, whether it’s through inclusive model castings, or just being open to different perspectives and letting new voices be heard. In past decades, we’ve looked for what’s socially acceptable and taken cues from leadership in our governments, authoritative figures or even big brands. Now, that’s all changed. People are more engaged than ever.”