Bill Howard, CEO of Snap Creative, whose company has been creating “talk of the town” products for over 20 years, discusses how Snap has created innovative packaging concepts for all of the Transformers films, including the $1 billion global smash Transformers: Age of Extinction, which arrives on Blu-ray and DVD September 30, 2014.
Media Mikes: You have been creating collectible Transformers home entertainment packaging since the release of the first DVD. How did you get involved with the Transformers business
Bill Howard: Paramount challenged our team at Snap Creative to create a DVD package for the first Transformers film that could turn into OPTIMUS PRIME, but it had to be the height and width of a standard DVD to fit on a store shelf and it had to be no more than double the depth. Our solution required a design that had hidden parts that could reveal for conversion, and we used bas relief sculpture on the front so that we could have layered parts but stay within the depth. All the sculpt detail and deco was on the front side which let us maximize it. That DVD was a huge hit and we’ve continued designing for the Transformers releases ever since.
MM: How do you keep the designs fresh for each release?
BH: On each subsequent movie we have upped the ante creating 2.0, 3.0 and now 4.0 for the new Transformers: Age of Extinction Blu-ray and DVD slated for release in September 2014. They have all been awesome, but I am confident that this OPTIMUS PRIME is our best one yet. It has new features that make it cooler for sure, and we worked with Hasbro and digital assets directly from the movie that provided great sculptural marrow. I am already thinking about how we take it further for 5.0, and am glad the film is a few years off to give us enough time to really get creative.
MM: What makes your packaging designs so desirable to collectors?
BH: Our Transformers designs historically have been hugely successful because the fans appreciate our level of extreme detail and authenticity. We often design multiple packages that are available at different retailers, and real fans go out of their way to get them all because they each have something unique and collectible about them.
MM: You also did theater promotions for Transformers: Age of Extinction this year to coincide with the theatrical release. Tell us more about those.
BH: Our movie theater popcorn collectible packs are really brilliant— they have one piece of board cut once and glued in one place which provides a package that holds cup, popcorn and candy. It can be carried with one hand and the operations folks at cinemas love it because it goes from flat to built in just a few seconds.
Each year we run about 15 promotions in theater with these packs. We have partnered with many of the top Hollywood studios to do licensed versions for some of the biggest movies including Transformers: Age of Extinction. These packs (some geared towards kids, some toward adults), are usually paired with a small collectible toy which is a fun way for property owners to extend their brands to families in theaters and at home. The Transformers: Age of Extinction pack featured a transforming keychain and collectible cup. Exhibitors love it because they generally see about a 20% lift in sales with these branded collectible packs and we’ve grown the program from around 2 million pieces to 6 million pieces just in the last two years. We are also continuing to grow internationally with programs in Thailand, China, Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Canada and more.
MM: You seem to have quite the collector following for your products. Many times it seems like your products double in value or more on the after-market. Why?
BH: One word: authentic. We work on every detail to get it right not just for Transformers, but for everything we do. Enthusiasts appreciate that we “get” them because we ourselves are collectors, so we understand just what they are looking for in a product. For powerhouse franchises like Transformers, we make a point of honoring the legacy of the franchise while also moving it forward in new and different ways.
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