Building Brands Beyond Packaging



In this world of less observable truths and social proof, we need to revisit our beliefs and connect holistically with demanding consumers. Matthieu will speak about brand experiences and the approach to face the loss of paradigms.



First of all, I would have had no career if it was not for Mr Pelloux who was my art teacher as a teenager. His classroom was a surrealist installation, he collected abandoned objects and furniture for years, and was famous for putting them together in a typical Dadaist way. It was like if Marcel Duchamp invited you to travel through some of his works. He was remodelling his entire class every month and it was very impressive knowing that he had so many objects and heavy furniture—it was a real commitment. Every time, he was creating something original, magical and provocative: it was quite unique in the context of a strict private school in Versailles. This was a getaway for me as I admired him and his universe, and he was the one who increased my imagination and encouraged me to pursue a creative journey.

Later on as a professional, I had the chance to meet many mentors, including several individuals who impacted my journey in this industry. If I had to pick one whose impact has been the greatest—and without sounding too corporate driven—I would say it is my boss, Mauro Porcini. I was his first hire at the 3M Company back in 2004 and I have been on his side since then, first building 3M’s design function and PepsiCo’s after that. He taught me how to think big, push the boundaries and to never give up. He was a boss became a mentor, a friend and a confidant.



Paradigms are over and experimentation is necessary. I grew up in France, lived in Italy (the country of my grandparents) for almost 13 years, and now I have been in New York for almost six years. I travel all the time and my friends are literally from all over the world. What I witnessed this past year living in this global context is that there aren’t rules for packaging anymore. We live in an anamorphic reality, and our job is becoming more difficult every month. Globalization is overlapping with strong local expressions, styles, codes and cues that are travelling from one category to another. Abundance and access are challenging our ability to read the near future and connect with what really matters. Packaging and products have to reflect these fast evolutions and deliver experiences which are relevant in the moment, in a geography, for a specific use but more importantly, you have to experiment, learn, and do it fast.

In order to face this challenge, we need to be a generalist more than a specialist, to broaden our knowledge and to approach projects from a holistic standpoint. As I look at my own journey, I started as an industrial designer, but then I learned “in the making” about Interior Design, 3D Animation, Digital Design, Experiential Design, Fashion Design, etc. The brands who stood out last year were using multidisciplinary design tools and demonstrating attention to curated storytelling in layered cultural anchors.



I believe that it won’t differ too much from what we are seeing this year. In this world of less observable truths, we need to practice skilful introspection to enhance our deeper consciousness. By this, I mean that if you consider Kant’s idea that there is an aspect of existence always outside of our perceptions of it, we need to push ourselves to live a vast array of experiences in order to fully understand a context. It doesn’t even need to be that far outside the reality of your everyday. It could be happening in that neighbourhood you never go to, or in a discussion with your worst enemy. The biggest challenge for the packaging industry in 2019 will be the ability of its protagonists to revisit their beliefs and to become true creative empaths removing their own barriers. It should be our daily mission to always think in critical terms and holistically. The mistake of many companies and agencies is to put packaging as the main delivery, the hero. We have to think more broadly and lean toward brand experiences, with packaging being only one of the deliverables.



Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal was submitted for the first time to an exhibition in New York in 1917.  One art critic argued at the time that "Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man." I like to think that Mr Pelloux’s introduction to Dadaism forged in me an unconventional and critical approach to things which I am trying to pass on to my teams every day. Here we are, hundreds of years later in New York City for the Pentawards conference. I am looking forward to participating in discussions about our industry with the same open-minded and critical approach, to better know the protagonists of our industry, and to celebrate our team’s achievements.