September 2022 – Creates colorful, brand-building cartons for distributing the new fresh fruit beverages to stores across the state
Only six months after introducing its homegrown beverage line, Gorilla Lemonade started mass production and distribution of its bottled drinks at the beginning of September with the help of cartons created by Unicorr Packaging Group.
Gorilla Lemonade partners Brian Burkett-Thompson and Kristen Threatt launched their fresh fruit-flavored beverages as part of their Eat Up Foundation, a New Haven, CT-based non-profit that hosts community-based charity events to help feed those in need. After seeing sales take off and receiving accolades and endorsements from celebrities and public officials, the partners started getting the lemonade ready for distribution on a much larger scale. Their goal was to turn Gorilla Lemonade into a global phenomenon, with 50 percent of each bottle sold going to the Eat Up Foundation to support its initiatives.
Unicorr’s design team transformed a representation of the Gorilla Lemonade brand, hand-drawn with Sharpies on a cardboard box by local artist Tyreece Gary, into a design that both aligned with Eat Up’s vision and met Unicorr’s manufacturing parameters. Burkett-Thompson and Threatt said they chose the gorilla as the company’s symbol because of the animal’s “strength, intelligence and gentleness, a special combination that is all too rare in the world.”
The partners were connected to Unicorr through working with Joe Evans at juice manufacturer, Norwich Beverage Company, in Connecticut. When they met with the Unicorr team, they brought the box with the colorful gorilla sketch. Because they wanted a certain look for the company’s boxes, the partners knew it was important to have something to show Unicorr.
“It was a work of art,” recalls Lindsay Mondrone, Unicorr’s sales account manager. When she brought the box back to Unicorr’s design team, she says, “Everyone was impressed. For the design team to have a local artist give them something that they normally don’t have to work with was great. The challenge was how to get it onto a box within all our production parameters.”
Further meetings took place between Mondrone and the Gorilla Lemonade partners to determine fonts and colors for producing more refined versions of Gary’s design.
“Lindsay was amazing to work with,” Threatt said. “From the start, she and her team got our vision.”
Unicorr Corporate Creative Director, Gary Lenkeit, led his team through the challenge of converting hand-drawn artwork in eight colors into an image they could mass-produce on boxes.
“We photographed the box and redrew the artwork,” says art director Mark Stetson. “We tried to pay close attention to the art style and we made sure the original artist is credited on the carton.”
By mid-August, Mondrone informed the partners that everything was ready to go. The first run of 4,800 of the new cartons would be Monday, Aug. 29.
Burkett-Thompson was on the Unicorr manufacturing floor to witness the moment. Joining him were Lenkeit, Mondrone, and Unicorr’s Director of Operations, Nick Perkins, and Converting Superintendant, Manny Dasilva.
“Speechless,” Burkett-Thompson shouted to the Unicorr team over the roar of the machines, as vertical stacks of boxes printed with the new Gorilla Lemonade design moved along a conveyer belt. “I feel like I won the lottery.”
According to Unicorr Sales Manager, Bernie Baszak, the Gorilla Lemonade partners’ instinct to produce an eye-catching box was spot on.
“The boxes have become a lot more of a marketing tool,” he says. “It used to be this is how you get the product from here to there and now people are putting these boxes directly on the shelf at stores such as BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, Walmart, Target, all over the place.”
Since the collaboration with the Gorilla Lemonade partners was such a success, Perkins, who represents the third generation of the Unicorr family business, discussed a future packaging partnership with them for Eat Up’s Chili Cookoff Competition and Thanksgiving hot meals and care packages.
He told them, “We can get creative. We can supply you with what you need to convey all that great messaging to people.”