The Ideal Entry

By Pat Shields, Director of Structural Design
Consumer Packaging, RockTenn and PPA Student Design Challenge Judge

What are judges looking for when they review the PPA’s Student Design Challenge (SDC) entries? On behalf of the SDC panel of judges, I’d like to give you a few tips to help make your SDC entry the “Ideal Entry.”

Each year, the judges use the following points system to score the entries:

Prototype – 50 Points

The prototype should be a completely market-ready package that includes graphics, complete open and closure features, and a brand that resonates with the target market.

Questions for you and your team members to consider are:

  • Is the package structurally sound?
  • Can it endure the test of shipping and handling?

The prototype is worth half of your total score, so make sure it’s a good one!

Design Elements – 25 Points

Judges want to see how you got from the initial design idea to the final market-ready package.

The design element portion of the entry should include:

  • The die line
  • a detailed die drawing
  • a photo of the finished design

Note that the photo of the finished design also helps the judges and PPA staff to identify your package with the correct submitted forms, so please make sure to include one.

Marketing Plan – 25 Points

The plan should focus on the usage, positioning and marketing of the product your package contains. It may take real market research and field surveying to figure out how your package can be the most appealing to your target market.  Remember, strong branding should be evident in your plan.

Click here  to see the 2014 SDC first place winning entry and marketing plan, which is a good example of an “ideal entry.”

I hope this information will help you when designing your innovative entry. Good luck!

From packaging design student to packaging professional, Pat Shields has spent the last 30 years dedicated to paperboard packaging. In his current role as Director of Structural Design – Consumer Packaging for RockTenn, he has been involved with a host of name brand consumer packaged goods as well as a variety of startups. Pat has served as a PPA SDC judge since 2010.