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Pots of gold

Gill Loubser appraises the recent Gold Pack event.  Clive Glover provides the photos.   

A new venue, a fresh format, a streamlined structure … this year the Gold Pack committee, led by Bill Marshall and Vanessa von Holdt, threw off the old and donned the new. And it was a roaring success.   

In the four decades since the establishment of the Bob Wooler Award, the Institute of Packaging’s awards programme has grown and transmogrified.   

In the early days, at a modest cocktail party at the Durban Country Club, contestants witnessed Pierre Olivier and John Marriott progressively uncovering winners’ names hand-written on a giant board. Nowadays, Gold Pack is a splendid event featuring the latest hi-tech audio visual technology.   

But that’s only one transition as the programme has morphed from a low-key bestowal of a handful of prizes to a multifaceted and glittering black-tie event where a multitude of awards are presented in a variety of categories.    

For those students of history among our readers (others can skip to the pictures!), here are a few of the major changes over the years:

•     In1979, the competition (originally the Bob Wooler Awards) was renamed the Gold Pack Awards, with gold and silver plaques being offered in consumer and industrial categories. Until 1993, however, the overall prize remained the Bob Wooler Trophy.

•     By 1985, IPSA had reached the limit of its financial resources for an annual affair and changed the frequency to a biennial event. At the same time, Specialised Exhibitions stepped in with generous sponsorship, and has remained one of a band of loyal sponsor ever since.

•     Yet another step-change occurred in 1987 with a move from a cocktail event to Gold Pack’s first glitzy dinner at Durban’s Royal Hotel.

•     In 1989, new heights were reached when Gold Pack moved to Johannesburg, where 400 well-dressed people (for the first time, black tie was de rigueur) attended a banquet at the Sandton Sun. The theme that year (a John Marriott brainchild) was ‘The Aces’, marking the beginning of a series of memorable themes devised by John for each subsequent Gold Pack programme – introduced with the entry form and carried through to banquet décor and menu cards, and recurring in the award-winners’ brochure.

•     Marking IPSA’s ‘coming of age’ in 1991, Gold Pack moved to Johannesburg’s Carlton Hotel where a record 500 witnessed the presentation ceremony.

•     In Gold Pack’s continual evolvement, further changes occurred in 1993, when the Gold Pack Trophy was introduced to replace the Bob Wooler Trophy as top prize. That year also marked the ratification of IPSA’s membership of the World Packaging Organisation (WPO) and WPO president Gerry Townshend was guest of honour at the banquet.

•     In1993, Pierre Olivier, long-standing chairman of the Gold Pack committee, and deservedly known as ‘Mr Gold Pack’, had resolved to hang up his gloves. But fortunately for IPSA, although he ‘retired’ as overall chairman, he remained as judging chairman; and for a further eight years continued to be responsible for the selection of judges and the maintenance of impeccable judging procedures. In 2001, however, he finally stepped back and that year’s Gold Pack Awards banquet at Gallagher Estate was his swansong. This year, Pierre reappeared to present a prize – the John Marriott Strut your Stuff – that paid tribute to John Marriott, who died last year after four decades of sterling service to Gold Pack.

Fresh format

In the interests of speeding up the process (its length having been a point of criticism in the past), Gold Pack this year changed to a ‘cinema style’ presentation of Gold Medals in each of the categories, the naming of PACSA’s Packaging Achiever, and the assigning of the overall Gold Pack Trophy.

With that slick procedure complete, thanks to the professionalism of Bill Marshall and Vanessa von Holdt, guests enjoyed a free-flowing buffet-style party at Johannesburg’s Wanderers Club, a format that considerably facilitated networking opportunities for the 420 people present.

Alongside a display of sartorial excellence was an enormous sense of camaraderie as competitors met on neutral ground, rekindling old friendships and entrenching newer contacts. In a nutshell, the event provided (as it always does) an unparalleled opportunity for interaction along the length of the packaging chain – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, retailers and the packaging press.

However, for those who missed this glamorous evening (and even for those who were there!), the following pages include an overview of award-winners and photographs of happy revellers. A brochure providing a complete record of winners, their innovative products and judges’ comments was distributed with the October edition of this magazine and is available online at http://www.packagingmag.co.za/e-mag/goldpack-2013/

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