Robert Hall attends the 2017 GIMA (Garden Industry Manufacturer's Association) Awards as an appointed judge and offers his experience about the judging day and the many products there for review.
Robert Hall was delighted to present Westland Horticulture with an award for Best Consumer Product Packaging for their product Westland SafeLawn at the GIMA awards 2017 and who went on to win its top award the GIMA Sword of Excellence.
I was drawn to the product almost as soon as the judging had begun. The colour and shape of the box drew me in but the name hit the hardest. ‘SafeLawn’. This is immediately qualified by ‘Child & Pet Friendly’ above and ‘Natural Lawn Feed’ below the brand name.
Okay, you have the term ‘lawn’ used twice in eight words but that is also the primary subject matter so that is not a major issue. Everything else in those eight words tells me exactly what I need to know and, for many people, that is also exactly what they are looking for.
Your eyes roll down to the four white plant labels pushed into the green lawn that further reinforce the message by telling you 100% natural ingredients will green and thicken your lawn as well as preventing weeds and moss naturally. And all this is achieved by using the cleverly built in applicator so everything is in the box and there is nothing extra you have to buy.
My early college years taught me how to be a journalist first before this was overtaken with my desire to be a photographer. Visual imagery is one of my great passions and so I was quickly drawn back to the top half of the packaging that has the sun shining behind the manufacturer's logo, which is not too overpowering, set against a blue sky background with a hint of thin white cloud.
It’s a dream like English summer's day that wraps around the Janet and John style silhouette of a young girl and her family dog. Her feet and the dog's paws are purposely just lost in the lush green of the lawn. The silhouetted figures are particularly strong as they have no race, no creed and no religion but they appeal to everyman as they need our protection. It is very easy to subliminally project your child or grandchild onto the silhouette along with the family pet, whatever it may be. There is a fence behind them that underlines their vulnerability but also serves to protect them.
And finally, the life giving sun that is hidden behind the logo reappears in the girl's hand as a yellow tennis ball that connects her to her dog and adds the necessary fun of play time. The ball is the only element of colour in the silhouettes and it works superbly well.
I don’t think that most buyers of SafeLawn will read into the packaging what I have described above but I think they will be reassured enough by the product to buy it if they are in the market for a lawn feed and weed. I would also love to talk to the person, or group, who designed this whole graphic to see if I have read it as they have designed it?
The attention to detail also stretches to the shape of the box that has a linear indent running along one side which draws you to pick it up lengthways as the shape allows your hand to gently curve around the box. Facing the ground, or in this case facing the lawn, is the in-built applicator that is exposed by removing a protective strip of cardboard. Once you have bought the product it must be used and here you get all the encouragement any designer could muster from a simple cardboard box.
In truth this whole packaging format is anything but simple, even though it appears so.
I was a strong advocate for this product when judging it initially as a category winner and then again as the product to win the overall GIMA Sword of Excellence 2017. Congratulations to all those involved!
There were other winners at this year's GIMA Awards that I voted for and I also particularly like the Forest Decibel Noise Reduction Panel which was the Winner of the Garden Landscaping category. As the MC said on the night, ‘It just looks like any other fence panel - what’s the difference?’ And that is the point.
It looks attractive enough, is very strong, and well constructed so it fits very neatly into the tick box that says ‘high quality fence panel’ without question. But it is the noise reduction element that is the really innovative element. There are similar products on the market but Forest Garden have managed to produce this panel at a realistic price so it will be affordable to buy in quantity for those that will really benefit from its sound deadening properties.
It works in three different ways by reflecting sound which easily bounces off the panel; it diffuses noise as sound waves break up when hitting the specially formulated triangulated surface and it absorbs and dissipates sound making it capable of up to 30dB Noise Decibel Reduction. Such an innovative product that can have a real benefit on people’s lives definitely gets my vote.
Perhaps the biggest cheer on the night came when it was announced that the Cast Iron Poppy Bird Feeder and charity Wild Bird Seed Blend from Gardman Products had helped to raise £240,000.00 for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. The feeder is a very simple and attractive product selling for well under £10.00 that raised a staggering amount of money from the British public. Another very worthy category winner.
There were many other worthy winners on the night (listed below) but I have chosen to highlight some of the very best products that make the manufacturers in the gardening industry stand out from the competition.
Thank you to all those that entered, which was more than ever before, and thank you to Chris Ramsden and Vicky Nuttall for organizing such a professional GIMA Awards night. Hopefully I will be invited back one day so I can again have the opportunity to showcase some of the talented people, and the products that they bring to the UK gardening market.
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