Hanging with Style: Digital Neck Hangers Provide Marketing Flair


Tommy Johnston, regional sales manager, Easley Winery, Indianapolis, is a firm believer in creative ways of going to market. Neck hangers, printed digitally on one of the HP Indigo digital presses at Century Marketing, Bowling Green, OH, are part of his innovative approach to retailers and their customers. Johnston calls them “neckers.”

“The necker for our popular Reggae Red Wine was a co-op program in Ohio and Kentucky with Coconut Jack’s Coconut Rum,” he says. “It features the recipe for a drink called Reggae Jam that’s a mixture of the wine and coconut rum. We wanted people to pull the product off the shelf and it worked. The Neilsen rating in Ohio for dollars spent on this product has doubled.

“We forged a good partnership offering reasonably priced ingredients that are appealing to people. And, retailers want a one-stop shopping experience for customers to increase their ‘basket ring.’”

Launched in 1974 by Indianapolis attorney Jack Easley and his wife, Joan, the Easley Winery today remains a family business that makes more than 20 wines and Indiana champagne, plus mead and several fruit wines. Easley wines can be found in a selection of grocery and retail chains in a five-state area—including Giant Eagle, Kroger, Biggs, Marsh, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and CVS.

New to digital

“We’d never used digital printing before,” Johnston says. “It offered so much more than I expected. It allowed us to really merchandise our product and make it look top-of-the line. We’re thrilled with the quality and appreciate the fact that we only have to order what we want and need. We’re also passing out the neckers at trade shows as a takeaway.”

He also points out that neckers are a superb way to offer consumers more information. In addition to suggesting drink recipes or food pairings, neckers can carry the things like the wine’s point rating. “That stands out,” Johnston says.

Mary Ann Morse, a customer care representative at Century Marketing, points out that Easley was excited about being able to produce a bright colorful piece. “Given the cost of the number of plates, another process would have used to achieve this result, they would have had to go with a one- or two-color necker,” she says.

Century Marketing has over 30 years of award-winning printing experience, providing custom printed products to businesses and individuals nationwide. It has been using HP digital equipment for the past 10 years. Its current HP Indigo lineup, the webfed ws4500 and its new sheetfed 5500, provide the company with the ability to offer a wide range of specialty printing products and services. CenturyLabel.com is the company’s website devoted to showcasing its capabilities.

Local colors

The HP Indigo press ws4500, which ran the Reggae Red neck hangers, is a high-productivity, cost-effective digital solution. Designed for high-volume 24/7 operation, it has an economic run length of 6,500 linear feet. It can print with IndiChrome and up to seven colors, including spot colors and white.

The HP Indigo digital press 5500 offers a wide color gamut, with up to seven-color printing. It has special and spot color capabilities, including new photo inks—light cyan and light magenta, digital matte, and brand colors—with the ability to print thick substrates.

Bob Petrie, Century’s vice president of wholesale marketing, says that although the new sheetfed Indigo’s first tasks have been fulfillment for the company’s WebChannel business, they are looking to print shorter run labels on this press. “We use the ws4500 as a production press,” Petrie notes. “However, we fully intend to look into also running pressure sensitives on the 5500.”

More neckers for Easley are also in the future for Century’s ws4500. Johnston says he’s planning one with a “going local” theme. “We’re in Indiana and the Midwest,” he says. “Why not support your local economy by buying locally?”

This article was reproduced here with permission from Package Design Magazine March 2010 issue (Vol. 8 No. 2). The original piece is available online at PackageDesignMag.com.

Package Design Magazine is published by ST Media Group International, 11262 Cornell Park Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45242.