When Rémy Martin, a brand of Paris-based Rémy Cointreau, first talked to specialist label converter Lithobru, Cognac, France, about its Coupe Shanghaï project, the challenge they presented was extremely demanding. A unique premium cognac was under development that would celebrate Rémy Martin’s long history in China, and the brief was to match a mirrored surface inside the distinctive box with a mirrored body and neck label on the bottle itself.

Marc Millet, wine and spirits field sales representative in France for Avery Dennison, Glendale, Calif., explains that the requirement fell outside usual wine and spirits labeling requirements. “We have many premium materials for wine and spirits labeling, but the additional challenge here was to provide a product with a mirror effect that was also perfectly printable,” Millet says. “After some careful investigation, we suggested a labeling material to Lithobru that is usually used in another application segment. The material was then adapted to meet the very demanding printing requirements for Lithobru and Rémy Martin.”

A period of in-depth cooperation and development followed, where Avery Dennison closely worked with Lithobru to create the ultra-high-quality label that Rémy Martin wanted. Philippe Barnagaud, commercial sales director for Lithobru, explains that there were many different technical obstacles to overcome. “The shiny, mirror-effect spirit label material suggested by Avery Dennison was a great starting point, but we also had outstanding technical support from them during development of a final, printed solution,” Barnagaud says.

This was a highly complex job, dealing with a whole range of issues to ensure a flawless label that could survive inevitable scuffs and exposure to alcohol. In the end, special ink with flexo offset and a screen-printed color was used. As a result, Avery Dennison managed to achieve the lightest possible printing, to avoid areas of discoloration, and protect the finish by using a special flexco varnish. Additional measures were implemented to deal with static electricity and the need to print in a dust-free environment.

The end result was acknowledged by everyone involved as something exceptional, confirmed when the label won the Alcoholic Drinks category at the recent 2014 Finat annual awards — a second Finat win for Lithobru. The Finat label competition represents a showcase of the best in self-adhesive print labels. A jury of industry experts recognizes brands across a variety of segments including alcohol beverages, food, industrial, security, pharmaceuticals and more. Recognition by Finat helps promote companies and brands at an international level through exhibits and events. Additional benefits include peer recognition at a high industry standard, as winners are displayed during the annual Finat congress, and selected winners are entered in the World Label Association Competition. 

Nicolas Ballay, Rémy Martin purchasing manager, says that a sense of luxury was essential. “Rémy Martin was one of the first companies to supply cognac to China, and we needed something special for this commemorative product,” he says. “We wanted to convey a sense of light, and we wanted an innovative approach. Rémy Martin has a guiding principle of ‘Nothing but perfection,’ and we were very pleased with the commitment from Lithobru and Avery Dennison that brought this demanding project to a successful conclusion. Customer reaction to the label has been excellent.”

Fabien Bourgies, global director of wine and spirits at Avery Dennison, says that the success shows the rewards of looking creatively across segments to see what can deliver the best solution. “This project reflects the levels of added value that can be achieved when Avery Dennison and a specialist converter work together to create something entirely new,” he says. “Rémy Martin made it clear that they did not want to compromise on the final look, and the new label will help this cognac to make a real impact in the Chinese market. This was all down to being able to spot an unusual application for a material and having the agility to execute a tailor-made solution quickly.”