The Beauty in Boxing up the Boob Tube

six_ft_under_125 By Diana Brown

Pity the TV-box-set distributor. In a world of instant streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon (to say nothing of the endless number of sites offering illegal downloads), they have their work cut out for them getting people to actually plunk down good money for old-school DVDs and Blu-rays. As Diana Brown explains, studios are increasingly turning to high-end, well-thought-out packaging to give their TV-season collections a little bit of sizzle and oomph. (The following piece originally ran in the pages of Graphic Arts Magazine.)

Everyone has their favorite TV shows. Whether a drama, comedy or something in between (did someone say dramedy?), there are so many great new and old shows to watch. The luxury of being able to watch these shows on-demand is a welcome convenience, whether through an on-demand service provider like Netflix, purchasing episodes through iTunes, or by owning a DVD set. For the very popular and award-winning TV series, production companies are upping the ante by housing DVD collector sets in show-stopping packaging that begs to be picked up off of store shelves, purchased at a luxury price-point, and brought home to be put on display.

The value of print is exemplified through the type of creative packaging that differentiates a simple DVD box set from an outstanding one – using only a little paper, ink and ingenuity. Special-edition packaging is extremely collectible and helps brand owners forge stronger relationships with the show’s community. Below are four examples of incredibly innovative special-edition DVD packaging for TV series.

‘Mad Men’
The Mad Men franchise never ceases to impress with their creative packaging execution. Creative design ties in perfectly with the theme of the show, as Mad Men is about the inner workings of a 1960s advertising agency. The first of two innovative packaging examples is the limited edition box set for Season One. There is barely a minute that passes in the show where one of the characters is not smoking. Therefore, the appropriate packaging for such a show is in a Zippo lighter case. When the lid is flipped up, the (flaming) red discs are exposed.

The second Mad Men example is Season Two, as the box containing the DVDs comes apart into two pieces, much like a gift box would. The sleeve that contains the discs has an image of a man’s dress shirt, which can be seen through the clear film on the lid of the box. It’s almost as if you’re buying Don Draper’s shirt along with the DVDs. The effect is simple yet captivating, and it makes you want to pick up the product to take a closer look.

Each season retails for approximately $115 and $30, respectively.


‘Breaking Bad’
Breaking Bad is a runaway hit that never fails to be entertaining. The packaging for the complete series collector edition doesn’t fail to entertain, either. The plastic barrel packaging contains 16 discs, printed booklet, commemorative challenge coin and apron. The mix of commemorative items and bonus features on a variety of substrates (various polymers, paper and fabric) make this creative collector’s edition sure to be on every Breaking Bad fan’s Christmas list.

This complete series collection retails for approximately $300.


‘Planet Earth’
This limited edition Planet Earth collector’s globe beautifully contains the majesty of our planet. The 3D globe is made of plastic with a world map on the outside and images of tall trees on the inside. This is a numbered collector’s piece and 50,000 total pieces were manufactured. It’s fantastic to see that this creative packaging is on par with the phenomenal cinematography contained within the globe.

This collection retails for approximately $125.


‘Six Feet Under’
When packaging a complete series set about a family who runs a funeral home, what better way to commemorate the show but with  packaging that looks like it’s six feet under? Texture steals the show in this packaging; the box set displays a visually impactful texture printed on all sides of the package (that looks like compacted earth), and it also houses physical texture in the form of bright green artificial turf. Printed within the turf is a gravestone reading the name of the show and the dates that it “lived” on television. What a fantastic take on a theme!


This special edition packaging is now discontinued but it can still be found through resellers on Amazon and eBay.

It’s exciting to see film companies investing in creative packaging design that adds value to a DVD series. Packaging the discs using unconventional materials, shapes, sizes and themes makes these special edition sets collectible and highly sought after by fans.


Diana Browdiana_brownn is a columnist for Graphic Arts Magazine, and an instructor in the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. Currently, she teaches the first year Layout & Typography courses, as well as the fourth year Management Studies courses with a focus on developing business plans for the graphic communications industry.


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