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Publication numberUS20080142394 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/854,072
Publication dateJun 19, 2008
Filing dateMay 26, 2004
Priority dateMay 26, 2004
Publication number10854072, 854072, US 2008/0142394 A1, US 2008/142394 A1, US 20080142394 A1, US 20080142394A1, US 2008142394 A1, US 2008142394A1, US-A1-20080142394, US-A1-2008142394, US2008/0142394A1, US2008/142394A1, US20080142394 A1, US20080142394A1, US2008142394 A1, US2008142394A1
InventorsMarcus L. Thuesen, Lejo C. Brana
Original AssigneeThuesen Marcus L, Brana Lejo C
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Cup containers having advertising media
US 20080142394 A1
Abstract
Improved cup containers for products, especially single serve products, are provided for. The novel containers comprise a cup accommodating a product and lidding for the cup. The lidding comprises one or more imprintable substrate sheets which collectively provide a lid section and a message section connected to the lid section. The lid section is sealed to the cup and thereby defines a sealed volume accommodating the product therein. The message section provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. The lid section is provided on one of the lidding substrate sheets. The message section is provided either on the same substrate sheet as the lid section or on a separate substrate sheet. Although connected to the lid section, the message section is separable therefrom so that the message, such as an advertising message, may be removed from the container and viewed by a consumer. Preferably, the message section is separable from said lid section without compromising the integrity of the sealed volume. The novel cup containers also include preferred embodiments having a manufacturer coupon imprinted on the message section that is redeemable by a consumer of the packaged product and that has imprinted thereon machine readable indicia to facilitate automated processing of the coupon. Preferably the machine readable indicia are a UPC bar code utilizing the UCC/EAN-128 Article Numbering System or another bar code.
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Claims(86)
1. A product packaged in a cup container, said cup container comprising:
(a) a cup accommodating a product; and
(b) lidding comprising one or more imprintable substrate sheets; wherein said lidding further comprises:
i) a lid section sealed to said cup and thereby defining a sealed volume accommodating said product therein, said lid section being provided on a first said substrate sheet; and
ii) a message section connected to said lid section and providing a substrate on which a message may be imprinted, said message section being provided on said first substrate sheet or on a second said substrate sheet;
iii) wherein said message section is separable from said lid section, whereby said message may be removed from said lid section and viewed by a consumer.
2. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said messages section is separable from said lid section without compromising the integrity of said sealed volume; whereby said message section may be removed from said sealed cup and viewed by a consumer.
3. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said lidding comprises a substrate sheet providing said lid section and said message section, wherein said message section is separable from said lid section by cutting or tearing said substrate sheet along the boundary between said lid and message sections.
4. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said lidding comprises a first substrate sheet providing said lid section and a second substrate sheet providing said message section, wherein said second message sheet is removably affixed to the exterior surface of said first lid sheet.
5. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said lidding provides a total imprintable area equal to at least three times the nominal size of the lidding.
6. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said lidding provides a total imprintable area equal to at least four times the nominal size of the lidding.
7. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said lidding provides a total imprintable area equal to at least six times the nominal size of the lidding.
8. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 4 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 16 in2.
9. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 6 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 24 in2.
10. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 8 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 32 in2.
11. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said product is a single-serve food product.
12. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said product is selected from the group consisting of solids, powders, granules, tablets, liquids, semi-viscous liquids, pastes, gels, and gases.
13. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said product is selected from the group consisting of single-serve jams, jellies, honey, syrup, coffee creamers and flavorings, butter, margarine, cream cheese, and other spreads, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings and sauces, and other condiments.
14. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said product is a single-serve condiment.
15. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein product information is imprinted on the exterior faces of said lid section and said message section and an advertising message is imprinted on the interior face of said message section.
16. The packaged product of claim 15, wherein said advertising message pertains to a product or service other than the packaged product.
17. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein an advertising message is imprinted on said message section and said advertising message includes a manufacturer coupon redeemable by a consumer of said product which includes machine readable indicia associated therewith to facilitate automated processing of said coupon.
18. The packaged product of claim 17, wherein said manufacturer coupon includes a bar code associated therewith.
19. The packaged product of claim 17, wherein said manufacturer coupon includes a UPC bar code utilizing the UCC/EAN-128 Article Numbering System.
20. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said lidding is formed from a continuous web.
21. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said packaged product is produced by forming a web into a plurality of said cups interconnected by portions of said cup web, filling said plurality of interconnected cups with said product, sealing said plurality of interconnect cups with a web of said lidding, and cutting said plurality of sealed cups into individual product units comprising one or more of said sealed cups.
22. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein one or both of said lid and message sections are transparent or translucent.
23. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said message section is transparent or translucent.
24. The packaged product of claim 1, wherein said lid section is opaque and said message section is transparent or translucent.
25. A product packaged in a cup container, said cup container comprising:
(a) a cup providing a volume and having an open end through which a product is inserted into said volume and a flange extending from the periphery of said open end; and
(b) lidding, said lidding comprising:
i) a first imprintable substrate sheet, said first substrate sheet being sealed to said cup on said flange and across said open end thereof to provide a lid for said cup and to define a sealed volume accommodating said product therein; and
ii) a second imprintable substrate sheet, said second substrate sheet providing a substrate on which a message may be imprinted and being removably affixed to said first substrate sheet on the exterior face thereof;
iii) wherein said message sheet is separable from said lid sheet, whereby said message may be removed from said lid sheet and viewed by a consumer.
26. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said lidding comprises:
(a) a third imprintable substrate sheet, said third substrate sheet providing a substrate on which a message may be imprinted and being removably affixed to said second substrate sheet on the exterior face thereof.
27. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said messages sheet is separable from said lid sheet without compromising the integrity of said sealed volume, whereby said message may be removed from said sealed cup and viewed by a consumer.
28. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said lidding provides a total imprintable area equal to at least four times the nominal size of the lidding.
29. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said lidding provides a total imprintable area equal to at least six times the nominal size of the lidding.
30. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 4 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 16 in2.
31. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 8 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 32 in2.
32. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said product is a single-serve food product.
33. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said product is selected from the group consisting of single-serve jams, jellies, honey, syrup, coffee creamers and flavorings, butter, margarine, cream cheese, and other spreads, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings and sauces, and other condiments.
34. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein product information is imprinted on the exterior faces of said lid sheet and said message sheet and an advertising message is imprinted on the interior face of said message sheet.
35. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein an advertising message is imprinted on said message sheet and said advertising message includes a manufacturer coupon redeemable by a consumer of said product which includes machine readable indicia associated therewith to facilitate automated processing of said coupon.
36. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said lidding is formed from a continuous web.
37. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said packaged product is produced by forming a web into a plurality of said cups interconnected by portions of said cup web, filling said plurality of interconnected cups with said product, sealing said plurality of interconnect cups with a web of said lidding, and cutting said plurality of sealed cups into individual product units comprising one or more of said sealed cups.
38. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said message sheet has an area adjacent to an edge thereof that is unaffixed to said lid sheet to facilitate removal of said message sheet from said lid sheet.
39. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said lid sheet and message sheet are removably affixed to each other by a low tack, peelable adhesive.
40. The packaged product of claim 25, wherein said lid sheet and said message sheet are releasably laminated together.
41. The packaged product of claim 40, wherein said message sheet is laminated to said lid sheet by a low tack, peelable adhesive.
42. The packaged product of claim 41, wherein said message sheet has an area adjacent to an edge thereof that is unadhered to said lid sheet to facilitate removal of said message sheet from said lid sheet.
43. A product packaged in a cup container, said cup container comprising:
(a) a cup providing a volume and having an open end through which a product is inserted into said volume and a flange extending from the periphery of said open end; and
(b) lidding, said lidding comprising:
i) a first imprintable substrate sheet, said first substrate sheet being sealed to said cup on said flange and across said open end thereof to provide a lid for said cup and to define a sealed volume accommodating said product therein; and
ii) a second imprintable substrate sheet, said second substrate sheet providing a substrate on which a message may be imprinted, said message sheet having a fold therein defining a first portion thereof which is removably affixed to said lid sheet on the exterior face thereof and a second portion overlaying said first portion;
iii) wherein said message sheet is separable from said lid sheet, whereby said message may be removed from said lid sheet and viewed by a consumer.
44. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said messages sheet is separable from said lid sheet without compromising the integrity of said sealed volume, whereby said message may be removed from said sealed cup and viewed by a consumer.
45. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said lidding provides a total imprintable area equal to at least six times the nominal size of the lidding.
46. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 4 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 16 in2.
47. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 8 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 32 in2.
48. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said product is a single-serve food product.
49. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said product is selected from the group consisting of single-serve jams, jellies, honey, syrup, coffee creamers and flavorings, butter, margarine, cream cheese, and other spreads, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings and sauces, and other condiments.
50. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein product information is imprinted on the exterior faces of said lid sheet and said message sheet and an advertising message is imprinted on at least one of the interior faces of said message sheet.
51. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein an advertising message is imprinted on said message sheet and said advertising message includes a manufacturer coupon redeemable by a consumer of said product which includes machine readable indicia associated therewith to facilitate automated processing of said coupon.
52. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said lidding is formed from a continuous web.
53. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said packaged product is produced by forming a web into a plurality of said cups interconnected by portions of said cup web, filling said plurality of interconnected cups with said product, sealing said plurality of interconnect cups with a web of said lidding, and cutting said plurality of sealed cups into individual product units comprising one or more of said sealed cups.
54. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said message sheet has an area adjacent to an edge thereof that is unaffixed to said lid sheet to facilitate removal of said message sheet from said lid sheet.
55. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said lid sheet and message sheet are removably affixed to each other by a low tack, peelable adhesive.
56. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said lid sheet and said message sheet are releasably laminated together.
57. The packaged product of claim 56, wherein said message sheet is laminated to said lid sheet by a low tack, peelable adhesive.
58. The packaged product of claim 57, wherein said message sheet has an area adjacent to an edge thereof that is unadhered to said lid sheet to facilitate removal of said message sheet from said lid sheet.
59. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said second overlaid portion of said message sheet is removably affixed to the exterior face of said first portion of said message sheet by a low tack, peelable adhesive.
60. The packaged product of claim 43, wherein said second overlaid portion of said message sheet is releasably laminated to the exterior face of said first portion of said message sheet.
61. A product packaged in a cup container, said cup container comprising:
(a) a cup providing a volume and having an open end through which a product is inserted into said volume and a flange extending from the periphery of said open end; and
(b) lidding, said lidding comprising:
i) an imprintable substrate sheet, said substrate sheet having a lid section and a message section, said message section providing a substrate on which a message may be imprinted;
ii) wherein said lid section is sealed to said cup on said flange and across said open end thereof, thereby defining a sealed volume accommodating said product therein; and
iii) wherein said message section is separable from said lid section by cutting or tearing said substrate sheet along the boundary between said lid and message sections without compromising the integrity of said sealed volume, whereby said message may be removed from said sealed cup and viewed by a consumer.
62. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said message section is folded along the boundary between said lid section and said message section such that said message section overlays said lid section.
63. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said lidding provides a total imprintable area equal to at least four times the nominal size of the lidding.
64. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 4 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 16 in2.
65. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein the nominal size of said lidding is 8 in2 or less and the total imprintable area provided by said lidding is at least 32 in2.
66. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said product is a single-serve food product.
67. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said product is selected from the group consisting of single-serve jams, jellies, honey, syrup, coffee creamers and flavorings, butter, margarine, cream cheese, and other spreads, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings and sauces, and other condiments.
68. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein product information is imprinted on the exterior faces of said lid section and said message section and an advertising message is imprinted on the interior face of said message section.
69. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein an advertising message is imprinted on said message section and said advertising message includes a manufacturer coupon redeemable by a consumer of said product which includes machine readable indicia associated therewith to facilitate automated processing of said coupon.
70. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said lidding is formed from a continuous web.
71. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said packaged product is produced by forming a web into a plurality of said cups interconnected by portions of said cup web, filling said plurality of interconnected cups with said product, sealing said plurality of interconnect cups with a web of said lidding, and cutting said plurality of sealed cups into individual product units comprising one or more of said sealed cups.
72. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said overlaid message section is removably affixed to the exterior face of the lid section by a low tack, peelable adhesive.
73. The packaged product of claim 61, wherein said wherein said overlaid message section is releasably laminated to said lid section.
74. The packaged product of claim 73, wherein said message sheet has an area adjacent to an edge thereof that is not laminated to said lid sheet to facilitate removal of said message sheet from said lid sheet.
75. A method for disseminating advertising messages to consumers, which method comprises:
(a) packaging a product in a cup container having an advertising message associated therewith which may be viewed by a consumer;
(b) distributing said packaged product with said advertising message to a consumer outlet; and
(c) distributing said packaged product with said advertising message to consumers associated with said consumer outlets, thereby disseminating said advertising message to said consumers;
(d) wherein said cup container comprises:
i) a cup accommodating a product; and
ii) lidding comprising one or more imprintable substrate sheets; wherein said lidding further comprises:
(1) a lid section sealed to said cup and thereby defining a sealed volume accommodating said product therein, said lid section being provided on a first said substrate sheet; and
(2) a message section connected to said lid section and providing a substrate on which a message may be imprinted, said message section being provided on said first substrate sheet or on a second said substrate sheet;
(3) wherein said message section is separable from said lid section, whereby said message may be removed from said lid section and viewed by a consumer.
76. The method of claim 75, wherein said consumer outlet is a food service establishment.
77. The method of claim 75, wherein said product is a single-serve food product.
78. The method of claim 75, wherein said advertising message pertains to a product or service other than said packaged product.
79. A method for disseminating advertising messages to a target consumer group, which method comprises:
(a) packaging a product in a cup container having associated therewith an advertising message pertaining to products or services other than said packaged product, said advertising message being intended for a target consumer group;
(b) packaging said packaged product in a shipping carton having a machine readable indicator uniquely associated with said advertising message; and
(c) reading said indicator and in response thereto shipping said carton to consumer outlets associated with said target consumer group, whereby said packaged product may be distributed to consumers thereby disseminating said advertising message.
80. The method of claim 79, wherein said consumer outlet is a food service establishment.
81. The method of claim 79, wherein said product is a single-serve food product.
82. The method of claim 79, wherein said product is a type or brand of product associated with said target consumers.
83. The method of claim 79, wherein said product is a single serve food product of a type or brand associated with said target consumers.
84. The method of claim 79, wherein said product is a single serve food product selected from the group consisting of jams, jellies, honey, syrup, coffee creamers and flavorings, butter, margarine, cream cheese, and other spreads, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings and sauces, and other condiments and said consumer outlet is a food service establishment.
85. The method of claim 79, wherein said consumer outlets are located in a particular geographic region associated with said target consumers.
86. The method of claim 79, wherein said consumer outlets are a specific retailer or chain of retailers or a type of retail outlet associated with said target consumers.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to cup containers for products, and more particularly, to improved cup containers having separable advertising media and to methods for disseminating advertising messages to consumers via such improved cup containers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Advertisers have relied on many different ways to deliver advertising messages. For example, many advertisements are delivered through broadcast mass media, such as radio and television, or through printed mass media, such as magazines and newspapers. Direct advertising is another popular and often highly effective method because messages are delivered directly to a defined population of consumers. In addition to direct mail and e-mails, other direct advertising methods include dimensional mail, catalogs, inserts in bills and other mailings.

Despite the many different media available to advertisers, however, there is a continuing need to develop effective, cost efficient methods of advertising. For example, while distribution by broadcast media is relatively inexpensive, the cost of producing entertainment, news and other content for broadcast media can be extremely expensive, and those costs are reflected in advertising fees. Content production costs for printed mass media also can be substantial, and printed mass media can be expensive to produce and distribute. While most direct advertising contains little or no content beyond the advertising message, and thus, involves relatively low content cost, the cost of direct advertising nevertheless can be substantial. Such costs typically include the generation of a mailing list and postage or other delivery costs.

Moreover, a substantial portion, if not the majority of all advertising messages are never viewed by their intended audience for one reason or another. Many consumers receiving the advertisement may have no interest in the advertised good or service, or they may not be able to afford it. There also is a general clutter of advertisements that makes it difficult for a particular ad to capture the attention of consumers, especially if the consumer is distracted or otherwise occupied when the opportunity for viewing the ad arises.

For example, response rates for radio and television advertising typically is under 1%. Although inserts in newspapers and magazines commonly have somewhat higher response rates on the order of 1-2%, newspaper and magazine advertisements also have very low response rates, usually under 1%. Direct mail, catalogs, and e-mails have average response rates around 2%. The response rates for all of these methods, however, are greatly reduced because the vast majority of the ads are never viewed. For example, most direct mailings are thrown away without ever being opened. Likewise, from 85 to 99% of e-mailings are never opened. Even when presented to a consumer, however, many ads are not really viewed because they are lost in the clutter of many other ads, and this is a common problem with newspaper inserts and some forms of direct mailings.

Thus, most advertising methods are very inefficient and wasteful. The effective cost for each advertising message that is actually communicated to consumers, therefore, is generally many times higher that the nominal cost per message. Thus, despite, and in part because of the number and variety of conventional methods, advertisers continue to seek more cost effective ways of disseminating advertising messages.

Some methods of direct advertising that have shown both significant promise and significant shortcomings utilize the product itself as a distribution vehicle. For example, in “cross ruffing” a noncompetitive product is used as the vehicle to distribute a coupon, sample, or other sales promotion offer for another product. Coupons, premiums, and rebates toward the purchase of the same or another product also are attached to or included in product packaging as part of so-called “bounce back” offers. That is, packaging for products has long presented advertising messages relating to the products that are contained therein along with whatever other product information that may be required by law. More recently, however, products have been distributed in packaging that includes and presents advertising messages and incentives for products other than that contained in the package or that will incentives the consumer to purchase more of the same product. The messages typically have been imprinted on the packaging itself, carried in the packaging along with the product, or removably affixed to the packaging.

Cross ruffing and bounce back advertising messages on carrier products have a significant cost advantage over other forms of direct advertising because the distribution of such messages is in a sense nearly cost free. That is, other than the cost of printing or otherwise preparing the advertising message itself, there is little incremental cost in disseminating cross ruffed and bounce back advertising messages over and above the cost of producing and distributing the carrier products themselves.

Accordingly, cross ruffed and bounce back advertising messages on certain products have become common, for example, on cereal packaging. Many people place the box on the table while they eat breakfast cereals. Although they may be reading a newspaper, televisions may be on, or there may be other activities diverting their attention, this provides a greater opportunity for consumers to view advertising messages carried on or in cereal packaging. Accordingly, advertising messages carried on cereal packaging can have a higher view rate than other forms of direct advertising.

Despite the advantages of presenting an advertising message directly to a target audience, and despite its significant cost advantage over other forms of direct advertising, the type of products and packaging utilized to carry cross ruffed and bounce back advertising messages has been limited. In some instances this may be because certain products are not consumed under circumstances conducive to viewing of advertising messages. In other instances advertisers may fail to appreciate the opportunities created during consumption of the product. On the other hand, some products are consumed under circumstances that appear to provide ideal environments for delivering an advertising message, yet their use as carrier products has been extremely limited or non-existent.

Fortune cookies, for example, have a message slip baked into the cookie that is almost universally viewed, thus ensuring that any advertising message carried thereon would be effectively delivered as well. The relatively small size of traditional fortune cookie inserts, however, does not provide space for delivering much more than a branding type message, and fortune cookie inserts to date have proven unsuitable for delivering more extensive and sophisticated advertising messages.

Many so called “single-serve” food products are consumed under circumstances that also appear to provide favorable environments for presenting consumers with an opportunity to view advertising messages. Such single-serve products include a variety of condiments, such as jams, jellies, coffee creamers and flavorings, salad dressings, and sauces, which are provided to consumers in restaurants, concessions, institutions, and other food service outlets. Such consumers frequently have many opportunities to view advertising messages while they are waiting for their food or eating it.

To date, however, single-serve products have not been used or used effectively as vehicles to deliver advertising messages. One of the most common types of packaging for such products is the so-called rigid “cup” or “pot” container. Such packaging includes a substantially rigid cup, most commonly having a generally rectangular, circular, or oval shape, which is designed to accommodate a product or a certain quantity of product. After product is inserted into the cup, lidding material is sealed across the open end of the cup to provide a lid for the cup. Product is subsequently removed by peeling away the lidding material.

The material from which the lidding material is fabricated typically is an imprintable substrate sheet that is well suited for presenting advertising and information relating to the packaged product. To date, however, cup containers, especially those used to package single-serve food products, have not been used extensively, if at all, as carriers for cross ruffed and bounce back advertising messages.

One problem is that the serving or unit size of many products packaged in cup containers is relatively small, meaning that the cup container for such products also is relatively small. The most common sizes of cup containers have fluid capacities of from 0.17 to 8 ounces. For rectangular configurations, the dimensions most typically range from about 1.44″×2.19″ and 0.5″ deep to about 2″×2.75″ and 1.56″ deep. Circular configurations most commonly have dimensions from about 1.46″ in diameter and 0.7″ deep to about 3.00″ in diameter and 3.75″ deep. For example, single servings of jams and jellies are packaged in generally rectangular cup containers that typically are approximately 1.75″ by 2.25″ and 1.0″ deep. Single servings of coffee cream and flavorings are packaged in generally circular cup containers that typically are approximately 1.38″ in diameter and 1.0″ to 1.25″ deep.

Such containers provide relatively little imprintable space. The materials from which cups are fabricated usually can be imprinted, but in addition to its relatively small size, manufacturing considerations place practical constraints on using the cup as a substrate for product or advertising information. That is, especially for relatively small containers, the cups preferably are formed by pressure forming or thermoforming a substrate web as part of a continuous form, fill and seal process. Pressure molding or thermoforming, however, can distort any message preprinted on the cup web, and thus, the lidding material most commonly is the only portion of cup containers on which messages are imprinted.

Moreover, not only is there a limited amount of imprintable space on conventional cup containers, much of it must be devoted to product information required by law or good business practice. Typically any advertising messages are limited to relatively simple branding messages and such messages usually pertain to the packaged product. There is very little room for more sophisticated and complex advertising messages that are essential to successful marketing campaigns.

In particular, many products, such as food and consumer household products, are promoted extensively using manufacturer coupons. Such coupons typically offer a discount on specifically identified products and are distributed to consumers through various media such as newspapers and direct mailings. Consumers may redeem the coupons with merchants selling the product. The merchants in turn are reimbursed by the manufacturer or distributor of the product. The vast majority of manufacturer coupons are redeemed by merchants through a clearing house such as NCH Marketing Services, Deerfield, Ill. The automated processing of such manufacturer coupons essentially requires that they incorporate machine readable indicia, such as UPC bar codes utilizing the UCC/EAN-128 Article Numbering System. Information on standards for manufacturer coupons is publicly available, for example, through Uniform Code Council, Inc., Lawrenceville, N.J., and through Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inc., Washington, D.C.

Manufacturer coupons have been distributed using various types of product packaging as a carrier. For example, such coupons commonly are carried inside or imprinted on carton containers used to package cereal and other food products. The carton containers for such products typically are quite large and can easily accommodate manufacture coupons. Many cup containers commonly used in packaging single-serve products, however, are as a practical matter too small to accommodate a bar code and even minimal product identification as is required to produce a consumer redeemable, manufacturer coupon.

Another problem with providing imprinted messages on conventional cup containers is that the cup and lidding are in contact with product packaged in the cup. Many products are messy, and may leave a residue that obscures messages printed on the inner face of the lidding. The suitability of the outer face, however, especially as a vehicle for manufacturer coupons, is also limited because the lid typically is viewed as trash by consumers once the package is opened and the lid may have to be cleaned before it can be redeemed.

An object of this invention, therefore, is to provide improved methods for directly disseminating advertising messages to consumers of food and other types of products and improved packaging for products providing a medium for delivery of advertising messages.

It also is an object to provide such improved methods and packaging capable of delivering more extensive and sophisticated advertising messages, such as redeemable manufacturer coupons, especially such methods and packaging that may be used to advantage in single-serve food products.

Another object of this invention is to provide improved packaging having increased imprintable surface area, and especially such packaging that may be used to advantage in single-serve food products.

It also is a more specific object of the subject invention to provide improved cup packaging, and especially cup packaging for single-serve and other relatively small cup packages, that is capable of delivering more extensive and sophisticated advertising messages, such as redeemable manufacturer coupons.

Yet another object is to provide such improved packaging that may be produced by conventional machinery and processes with little or no modification.

It is a further object of this invention to provide such methods and packaging wherein all of the above-mentioned advantages are realized.

Those and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The subject invention provides for novel cup containers for products which have separable advertising media. The novel cup containers comprise a cup accommodating a product and lidding for the cup. The lidding comprises one or more imprintable substrate sheets which collectively provide a lid section and a message section connected to the lid section. The lid section is sealed to the cup and thereby defines a sealed volume accommodating the product therein. The message section provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. The lid section is provided on one of the lidding substrate sheets. The message section is provided either on the same substrate sheet as the lid section or on a separate substrate sheet. Although connected to the lid section, the message section is separable therefrom so that the message, such as an advertising message, may be removed from the container and viewed by a consumer. Preferably, the message section is separable from said lid section without compromising the integrity of the sealed volume.

The novel cup containers comprise various embodiments, including cup containers comprising a cup and lidding. The cup provides a volume and has an open end through which a product is inserted into the volume. The cup also comprises a flange extending from the periphery of the open end. The lidding comprises a first imprintable substrate sheet that is sealed to the cup on the flange and across the open end of the cup to provide a lid for the cup and to define a sealed volume accommodating the product. A second imprintable substrate sheet which provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted is removably affixed to the first substrate sheet on the exterior face thereof. Thus, the message sheet may be peeled away from the lid sheet by a consumer so that the message may be viewed.

Other embodiments comprise novel containers wherein the lidding includes multiple message sheets removably affixed to and peelable from the lid sheet, folded message sheets removably affixed to and peelable from the lid sheet, and a sheet having a lid section sealed to the cup and a message section which is connected to, but may be cut or torn away from the lid section.

Other preferred embodiments comprise single-serve, especially single-serve food products packaged in the novel containers, and novel containers having relatively small cups, but with significantly greater area available for imprinting advertising messages. The novel cup containers also include preferred embodiments having a manufacturer coupon imprinted on the message section that is redeemable by a consumer of the packaged product and that has imprinted thereon machine readable indicia to facilitate automated processing of the coupon. Preferably the machine readable indicia are a UPC bar code utilizing the UCC/EAN-128 Article Numbering System or another bar code.

It will be appreciated that products when packaged in the novel cup containers can occupy substantially the same space as when they are packaged in conventional cup containers, yet the novel packaging will provide significantly greater area on which advertising messages may be imprinted. Moreover, by increasing the imprintable area of 11 the packaging without significantly increasing the overall size of the packaged product, more extensive and sophisticated advertising messages may be provided even in relatively small cup containers. In particular, the novel containers, even when they are sized to package relatively small single-serve products such as jams, jellies, coffee creamers and flavorings, salad dressings, and sauces, have sufficient imprintable surface area to accommodate a manufacturer coupon, including the requisite product information and machine readable bar code used in systems that manage accounting between coupon issuers and merchants.

It also will be appreciated that the novel packages may be efficiently and inexpensively produced at high production levels by conventional methods and machinery. Moreover, the cost of providing message sections in the novel cup containers is minimal compared to the value of the advertising and that the advertising messages may be effectively disseminated for little incremental cost over the normal costs of producing and distributing the packaged product.

The subject invention also provides for improved methods of disseminating advertising messages to consumers. The methods comprise providing novel cup packages for products that are constructed in accordance with the subject invention and selected from the groups consisting of any or all of the novel packages. The packaged product with the advertising message is distributed to a consumer outlet and then to consumers associated with the consumer outlet. Preferably, the product is a single-serve food product which is distributed to food service establishments.

Finally, the subject invention provides for methods for disseminating advertising messages to a target consumer group. The methods comprise packaging a product in a cup container having associated therewith an advertising message pertaining to products or services other than the packaged product, the advertising message being intended for a target consumer group. The packaged product is then packaged in a shipping carton having a machine readable indicator uniquely associated with the advertising message. The indicator is read and the carton is then shipped to consumer outlets associated with the target consumer group. Preferably, the product is a single-serve food product which is distributed to food service establishments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top plan view (with a partial peel-away view) of a first preferred embodiment 10 of the cup containers of the subject invention, which container 10 comprises an imprintable message sheet that is removably laminated on the exterior face of the cup lid and which provides a medium for advertising messages;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the novel cup container 10 shown in FIG. 1 taken along line 2-2 thereof showing the construction of container 10;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view (with a partial tear-away view) of a lidding web 20 which is used to fabricate the novel container 10;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view (with a partial peel-away view) of a second preferred embodiment 30 of the cup containers of the subject invention, which container 30 comprises two imprintable message sheets that are removably laminated on the exterior face of the cup lid and which provide media for advertising messages;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the novel cup container 30 shown in FIG. 4 taken along line 5-5 thereof showing the construction of container 30;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view (with a partial tear-away view) of a lidding web 40 which is used to fabricate the novel container 30;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view (with a partial peel-away view) of a third preferred embodiment 50 of the cup containers of the subject invention, which container 50 comprises an imprintable message sheet that is folded and removably laminated on the exterior face of the cup lid and which provides a medium for advertising messages;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the novel cup container 50 shown in FIG. 7 taken along line 8-8 thereof showing the construction of container 50;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of a lid web 66 which is used to fabricate the novel container 50;

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a message web 67 which is used to fabricate the novel container 50;

FIG. 11 is a top plan view (with a partial peel-away view) of a fourth preferred embodiment 70 of the cup containers of the subject invention, which container 70 comprises a separable imprintable message section that extends from the lid of the container and which provides a medium for advertising messages;

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the novel cup container 70 shown in FIG. 11 taken along line 12-12 thereof showing the construction of container 70; and

FIG. 13 is a top plan view of a lidding web 80 which is used to fabricate the novel container 70.

DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

The subject invention is directed to product packaged in improved cup containers. The improved cup containers comprise a cup accommodating a product and lidding for the cup. The lidding comprises one or more imprintable substrate sheets which collectively provide a lid section and a message section connected to the lid section. The lid section is sealed to the cup and thereby defines a sealed volume accommodating the product therein. The message section provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. The lid section is provided on one of the lidding substrate sheets. The message section is provided either on the same substrate sheet as the lid section or on a separate substrate sheet. Although connected to the lid section, the message section is separable therefrom so that the message, such as an advertising message, may be removed from the container and viewed by a consumer.

The various embodiments of the novel invention may be viewed as improvements on conventional cup containers. Such cup containers typically comprise a cup container and lidding material that consists of a single sheet extending across the open end of the cup and sealed thereto. The novel containers are similar thereto, except that the lidding comprises additional sheets or sections that provide media for advertising messages in addition to having a lid sheet or section that closes and seals the cup.

For example, and in accordance with a first preferred embodiment, the novel cup container comprises a cup providing a volume and having an open end through which a product is inserted into the volume. The cup also comprises a flange extending from the periphery of the open end. A first imprintable substrate sheet is sealed to the cup on the flange and across the open end of the cup to provide a lid for the cup and to define a sealed volume accommodating the product. A second imprintable substrate sheet which provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted is removably affixed to the first substrate sheet on the exterior face thereof. Thus, the message sheet is separable from the lid sheet, whereby the message may be removed from the lid sheet and viewed by a consumer.

An example of this first preferred embodiment 10 is shown in FIGS. 1-3. As best seen in FIG. 2, container 10 comprises a cup 11 which defines a volume 12 and has an open end 13 through which product (not shown) may be inserted. A flange 14 extends from the open end 13. Flange 14 provides a surface to which lidding 15 is sealed.

More specifically, lidding 15 is a composite structure comprising a lid sheet 16 and a message sheet 17. Lid sheet 16 is composed of an imprintable substrate and is sealed to flange 14 of cup 11 to seal volume 12. Message sheet 17 is removably laminated to the outer face (outer relative to sealed volume 12) of lid sheet 16 by a layer of adhesive 18. Message sheet 17 also is composed of an imprintable substrate and provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. The message sheet 17 is removable from the lid sheet 16 so that the message may be viewed by a consumer.

It will be noted that the adhesive layer 18 does not extend across the entire opposing faces of lid sheet 16 and message sheet 17. Thus, there are portions 19 of the message sheet 17 adjacent to two of its edges that are not adhered to the lid sheet 16. Providing areas 19 facilitates the removal of the message sheet 17 from the lid sheet 16 by providing areas which can be grasped by a consumer's fingers to peel away the remainder of the message sheet 17.

Container 10 preferably is fabricated by an automated form, fill, and seal process utilizing, for example, a continuous web 20 of lidding material as shown in FIG. 3. Web 20 comprises a lid web 26 and a message web 27 laminated together by adhesive layer 18. Web 20 thereby provides a plurality of lid sheets 16 and message sheets 17 defined by cut lines 21. It will also be noted that each message sheet 17 is provided with areas 19 which facilitate removal of the message sheets by applying adhesive 18 between lid web 26 and message web 27 only within adhesive boundary lines 28.

It will be appreciated, therefore, that container 10 thus is provided with a single removable message sheet 17 equal in size to the lid sheet 16. Both sides of the message sheet 17 may be imprinted with, for example, an advertising message, thus providing the container with 100% more imprintable space than would be provided by the lid sheet 16 alone. Moreover, unlike lid sheet 16, no part of the message section 17 has been in contact with product packaged in the container and contaminated thereby.

As a further example, and in accordance with a second preferred embodiment, novel containers similar in construction to the first preferred embodiment described above may further comprise a third imprintable substrate sheet which also provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. It is removably affixed to the second substrate sheet on the exterior face thereof.

For example, as shown in FIGS. 4-5, container 30 has substantially the same construction as container 10 except that it has an additional message sheet 37 b removably affixed to the exterior face of message sheet 37 a. More specifically, as best seen in FIG. 5, container 30 comprises a cup 31 which defines a volume 32 and has an open end 33 through which product (not shown) may be inserted. A flange 34 extends from the open end 33. Flange 34 provides a surface to which lidding 35 is sealed.

More specifically, lidding 35 is a composite structure comprising a lid sheet 36 and two message sheets 37 a and 37 b. Lid sheet 36 is composed of an imprintable substrate and is sealed to flange 34 of cup 31 to seal volume 32. Message sheet 37 a is removably laminated to the outer face of lid sheet 36 by a layer of adhesive 38 a and second message sheet 37 b is removably laminated to the outer face of message sheet 37 a by a layer of adhesive 38 b. Message sheets 37 a and 37 b also are composed of an imprintable substrate and provide a substrate on which messages may be imprinted. Message sheets 37 a and 37 b are removable from the lid sheet 36 and from each other so that the messages may be viewed by a consumer.

It will be noted that the adhesive layers 38 do not extend across the entire opposing faces of lid sheet 36 and message sheets 37. Thus, there are portions 39 a and 39 b of the message sheets 37 a and 37 b adjacent to two of their respective edges that are not adhered to the lid sheet 36 or to each other. Providing areas 39 a and 39 b facilitates the removal of the message sheet 37 a and 37 b from the lid sheet 36 and from each other by providing areas which can be grasped by a consumer's fingers to peel away the remainder of the message sheet 37 a and 37 b.

Container 30 preferably is fabricated by an automated form, fill, and seal process utilizing, for example, a continuous web 40 of lidding material as shown in FIG. 6. Web 40 comprises a lid web 46 and two message webs 47 a and 47 b laminated together by adhesive layers 38 a and 38 b. Web 40 thereby provides a plurality of lid sheets 36 and message sheets 37 a and 37 b defined by cut lines 41. It will also be noted that each message sheet 37 a and 37 b is provided, respectively, with areas 39 a and 39 b which facilitate removal of the message sheets by applying adhesive 38 between lid web 46 and message webs 47 a and 47 b only within adhesive boundary lines 48.

It will be appreciated, therefore, that container 30 thus is provided with two removable message sheets 37 a and 37 b both equal in size to the lid sheet 36. Both sides of the message sheets 37 a and 37 b may be imprinted with, for example, an advertising message, thus providing the container with 200% more imprintable space than would be provided by the lid sheet 36 alone. Moreover, unlike lid sheet 36, no part of message sheets 37 a and 37 b have been in contact with product packaged in the container and contaminated thereby. It also will be appreciated that while the illustrated embodiments 10 and 30 comprise, respectively, one and two message sheets, the invention encompasses containers having three or more message sheets.

As another example, and in accordance with a third preferred embodiment, the novel cup container comprises a cup providing a volume and having an open end through which a product is inserted into the volume. The cup also comprises a flange extending from the periphery of the open end. A first imprintable substrate sheet is sealed to the cup on the flange and across the open end of the cup to provide a lid for the cup and to define a sealed volume accommodating the product. The container also comprises a second imprintable substrate sheet which provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. The second substrate sheet has a fold therein which defines a first portion which is removably affixed to the lid sheet on the exterior face thereof and a second portion overlaying the first portion. Thus, the message sheet is separable from the lid sheet, whereby the message may be removed from the lid sheet and viewed by a consumer.

An example of this third preferred embodiment 50 is shown in FIGS. 7-10. As best seen in FIG. 8, container 50 comprises a cup 51 which defines a volume 52 and has an open end 53 through which product (not shown) may be inserted. A flange 54 extends from the open end 53. Flange 54 provides a surface to which lidding 55 is sealed.

More specifically, lidding 55 is a composite structure comprising a lid sheet 56 and a folded message sheet 57. Lid sheet 56 is composed of an imprintable substrate and is sealed to flange 54 of cup 51 to seal volume 52. Message sheet 57 is removably laminated to the lid sheet 56. That is, message sheet 57 is folded such that a first portion 57 a is removably laminated to the outer face of lid sheet 56 by a layer of adhesive 58 a and a second portion 57 b overlays the first portion 57 a of the message sheet 57. Preferably, the second portion 57 b is removably laminated to the first portion 57 a by a layer of adhesive 58 b. Message sheet 57 also is composed of an imprintable substrate and provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. The message sheet 57 is removable from the lid sheet 56 so that the message may be viewed by a consumer.

It will be noted that the adhesive layer 58 b does not extend across the entire opposing faces of portions 57 a and 57 b of message sheet 57. Thus, there are areas 59 of the message sheet 57 adjacent to its edges that are not adhered to each other. Providing areas 59 facilitates the removal of the message sheet 57 from the lid sheet 56 by providing areas which can be grasped by a consumer's fingers to peel away the remainder of the message sheet 57.

Container 50 preferably is fabricated by an automated form, fill, and seal process utilizing a continuous web of lidding material fabricated, for example, from a lid web 66 and a message web 67 as shown, respectively in FIGS. 9-10. Lid web 66 provides a plurality of lid sheets 56 defined by cut lines 61. Message web 67 provides a plurality of message sheets 57, each have a first portion 57 a and a second portion 57 b, defined by cut lines 61 and fold line 62. Message web 67 is folded along fold line 62 such that portions 57 a and 57 b overlay each other and are laminated together with an adhesive layer 58 b. It will also be noted that each message sheet 57 is provided with areas 59 which facilitate removal of the message sheet by applying adhesive layer 58 b only within adhesive boundary lines 68. After it is folded, message web 67 is removably laminated to lid web 66 by adhesive layer 58 a.

It will be appreciated, therefore, that container 50 thus is provided with a single removable message sheet 57 twice the size of lid sheet 56. Both sides of the message sheet 57 may be imprinted with, for example, an advertising message, thus providing the container with 200% more imprintable space than would be provided by the lid sheet 56 alone. Moreover, unlike lid sheet 56, no part of the message sheet 57 has been in contact with product packaged in the container and contaminated thereby. It also will be appreciated that while the illustrated embodiment 50 comprises a message sheet having a single fold, the invention encompasses containers wherein the message sheet has more than one fold, and especially larger message sheets having more than one fold.

As a further example, and in accordance with a fourth preferred embodiment, the novel cup container comprises a cup providing a volume and having an open end through which a product is inserted into the volume. The cup also comprises a flange extending from the periphery of the open end. The container further comprises an imprintable substrate sheet which has a lid section that is sealed to the cup on the flange and across the open end of the cup to provide a lid for the cup and to define a sealed volume accommodating the product. The substrate sheet also has a message section which provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted. The message section is separable from the lid section by cutting or tearing the substrate sheet along the boundary between the lid and message sections without compromising the integrity of the sealed volume. Thus, the message may be removed from the sealed container and viewed by a consumer.

An example of this fourth preferred embodiment 70 is shown in FIGS. 11-13. As best seen in FIG. 12, container 70 comprises a cup 71 which defines a volume 72 and has an open end 73 through which product (not shown) may be inserted. A flange 74 extends from the open end 73. Flange 74 provides a surface to which lidding 75 is sealed.

More specifically, lidding 75 is a folded structure composed of an imprintable substrate sheet which has a lid section 76 and a message section 77. Lid section 76 is sealed to flange 74 of cup 71 to seal volume 72. Substrate sheet 75 is folded along the boundary between the lid section 76 and message section 77 such that message section 77 overlays lid section 76. Preferably, message section 77 is removably laminated to the outer face of lid section 76 by a layer of adhesive 78. Message section 77 provides a substrate on which a message may be imprinted and is removable from the lid section 76 by cutting or tearing the substrate sheet 75 along the boundary between the lid section 76 and message section 77 so that the message may be viewed by a consumer.

It will be noted that the adhesive layer 78 does not extend across the entire opposing faces of lid section 76 and message section 77. Thus, there is a portion 79 of the message section 77 adjacent to one of its edges that is not adhered to the lid section 76. Providing area 79 facilitates the removal of the message section 77 from the lid section 76 by providing an area which can be grasped by a consumer's fingers to peel away the remainder of the message section 77 so that it can be torn or cut away from the lid section 76.

Container 70 preferably is fabricated by an automated form, fill, and seal process utilizing, for example, a continuous web 80 of lidding material as shown in FIG. 13. Web 80 provides a plurality of lid sections 76 and message sections 77 defined by cut lines 81 and fold line 82. Web 80 is folded along fold line 82 and the respective lid sections 76 and message sections 77 are laminated together by adhesive layer 78. It will also be noted that each message section 77 is provided with areas 79 which facilitate removal of the message sections by applying adhesive 78 only within adhesive boundary lines 88. If desired, perforations (not shown) may be provided in web 80 on or proximate to fold line 82 to enable the message section 77 to be torn more easily from the lid section 76.

It will be appreciated, therefore, that container 70 thus is provided with a single removable message section 77 equal in size to the lid section 76. Both sides of the message section 77 may be imprinted with, for example, an advertising message, thus providing the container with 100% more imprintable space than would be provided by the lid section 76 alone. Moreover, unlike lid section 76, no part of the message section 77 has been in contact with product packaged in the container and contaminated thereby. It also will be appreciated that while the illustrated embodiment 70 comprises a message section that is folded over the lid section, the invention encompasses containers wherein the message section has additional folds and is folded on itself and especially larger message sections that are folded.

The foregoing preferred embodiments provide novel cup containers that have separate message sheets, both folded and unfolded, and message sections integral with lid sections, all with the object of increasing the imprintable area available for messages as compared to conventional cup containers. It will be appreciated that other embodiments may comprise any combination of such approaches, such as, for example, a cup container having a folded and an unfolded message sheet similar to that shown, respectively, in containers 50 and 10. In addition, as will become apparent from the discussion that follows, the substrate sheets used in the lid and message sheets, although illustrated as a single layer, may themselves be a laminated substrate sheet.

In general, the novel containers may be used to package the same types of products that are packaged in conventional cup containers. Such products include, but are not limited to food products, such as jams, jellies, honey, syrup, coffee creamers and flavorings, butter, margarine, cream cheese, and other spreads, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings and sauces, and other condiments, gelatin, puddings and other confections, fruit, yogurt, water, juices, coffee, tea, and drink mixes, chemical products, such as household cleaning and laundry products, medical products, such as catheters, sutures, syringes, swab sticks, lancets, and surgical gloves, and small parts. Such products may be in, but are not limited to the form of solids, powders, granules, tablets, liquids, semi-viscous liquids, pastes, gels, and gases.

While the novel cup containers may be used to package a wide variety of products, they are particularly suitable for packaging single-serve products, and especially single-serve food products. Many single-serve food products are distributed in large part to consumers in food service establishments. In such settings consumers often have more time available for viewing advertisements. It is expected, therefore, that advertising messages carried on the novel containers would be more effective when the product is a single-serve food product or other product that is consumed or used under circumstances affording consumers with significant time to examine the package.

In general, the novel cup containers for particular products preferably are made of materials and processes that would be used in packaging the product in conventional cup packages. Importantly, depending on the product and the manner in which it is consumed, the materials also may be required to meet certain regulatory standards relating to health and safety, such as laws and regulations implemented and enforced by the United States Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and other governmental and industry organizations. It will be appreciated that the novel containers, since they may be fabricated from standard and approved materials, provide a medium for advertising without diminishing the safety of the packaging.

More specifically, the cup may be fabricated from any of a variety of materials that are commonly used to fabricate the cup portion of conventional packaging. Such materials include papers and metallic foils that may be pressure formed, but for many products, cups made from thermoformable plastics, such as polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene terphthalate, and high density polyethylene, are preferred. Preferably the material will have tear, tensile, stiffness, memory, and other physical characteristics that render them suitable for use in conventional automated form, fill, and seal processes and machinery.

The substrate sheets used in the lidding of the novel containers in general may be composed of any of a wide variety of imprintable substrates conventionally used in cup packaging. Such substrates include paper, such as bond and machine glazed, cellophane, and other synthetic or natural nonwoven fibrous substrates, monolayer, multilayer, and coextruded films, such as those composed of high and low density polyethylene, polypropylene, ethylene vinyl alcohol, polyester, nylon, and other polymers, and aluminum and other metallic alloys, and paper-film and other laminate substrates. Suitable films will enable the imprinting of an advertising message. They also should have tear, tensile, stiffness, memory, and other physical characteristics that render them suitable for use in automated printing and packaging equipment. For many solid and powdered products, bond, book, and other types of paper based stock are preferred as they are relatively inexpensive, suitable for use in food products, may be handled relatively easily by automated equipment, and provide an excellent substrate for conventional printing processes. Machine glazed paper is especially preferred as it will provide improved print quality. Films and film laminate substrates are preferred for the same reasons when the product to be packaged is a liquid or viscous composition.

The substrate sheets may be either opaque, translucent or substantially transparent, as desired. For example, both the lid sheets and message sheets may be translucent or transparent to allow consumers to view packaged product. As a further example, the message sheet can also be constructed of a transparent or translucent material so that a consumer may view indicia printed on the lid sheet of the novel lidding.

The sheets used in the lidding of the novel containers also may be made from the same substrate or different substrates. For example, the lid sheet may be fabricated from a material that has better barrier properties and the message sheet from another material that is more suited to imprinting and automated processing of the sheet as a coupon. Because generally it will be desired to provide the lid sheet with the requisite barrier and tensile properties to serve as a stand alone lid when the message sheet is removed, such properties are not necessarily required for the message sheet and, therefore, a wider range of materials may be suitable for use as message sheets.

In general, the choice of material for the cups and lidding substrate sheets will be determined by those and other factors well known to those skilled in the art of packaging, and many suitable materials are commercially available. Typically, the cup and sheet material used in the novel containers for a particular product will be the same types of materials used to package that product in conventional cup packages. Importantly, if the packaged product is a food product or other product intended for consumption, and the cup or lid will come in sufficiently close contact therewith, the materials must be suitable for use in food products, and most preferably is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for such use.

The sheets used to fabricate the lid sheet for the novel containers are preferably coated or spotted in appropriate locations with a heat sealable adhesive, such as those composed of polyethylene and other thermoplastic polymers. Alternately, many films suitable for use as substrates, such as low density polyethylene (LDPE), are heat sealable. Pressure sensitive adhesives also are an alternative. In general, any suitable method of forming the necessary seal between the lid sheet and cup may be used.

The novel containers all provide imprintable media which are connected to the lid sheet or section that seals product within the cup, but are separable therefrom and, preferably, without opening the cup. In certain embodiments, such as container 70, a message section extends from a lid section and is integral with the sheet from which the lid section is made. It is removed by tearing or cutting the message section from the lid section, and suitable perforations may be provided to facilitate tearing away of the message section. In other embodiments, such as containers 10, 30, and 50, imprintable message sheets are removably affixed to the lid sheet or other message sheets and are pealed therefrom. They may be removably affixed thereto by conventional methods and materials similar to those used to seal the lid sheet to the cup. For example, if the substrate sheets are themselves heat sealable, the message sheet and lid sheet may be lightly or spot bonded to each other. Preferably, however, a peelable, low tack adhesive is used so that the message sheet may be removed easily and without damaging it. Any suitable method for removably connecting message sheets to the lidding, however, may be used.

The message sheet preferably is removably affixed to the lid sheet, whether by adhesive, heat bonding, or other methods, such that the force required to peel the message sheet from the lid sheet is less than the force required to peel the lid sheet from the cup so that the message sheet may be more easily removed from the rest of the lidding without breaking the seal and opening the package. In the event that it is desired to deter consumers from removing the message sheet without consuming the product, however, the message sheet may be provided with a greater peel force so that it is more difficult to remove it without removing the lidding in its entirety.

Also, while in various preferred embodiments message sheets are described as being laminated to lids sheets or other message sheets by a substantially continuous layer of adhesive extending across the entire or the substantial majority of opposing faces thereof, it is not necessary, and may not even be desirable to do so. Adhesive may be applied discontinuously, e.g., in spots or lines. Also, message sheets may be affixed at only one end thereof, or where a message section is integrally formed with the lid section, left free of adhesive, so as to make it readily apparent to the consumer that the message may be removed from the rest of the lidding or simply to make the message more conspicuous. Furthermore, even where the substantial portion of the opposing faces are laminated together with a continuous or discontinuous layer of adhesive, areas near the edges of the sheets may be left free of adhesive to facilitate separation of message sheets by a consumer. As with other materials used in the novel containers, however, if the containers are for food products, the adhesive or other sealing and bonding methods used in the lidding preferably is suitable for use in association with food products as approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The advertising message may be imprinted by any of a number of conventional printing processes well known to workers in the art. It will be further appreciated, that in the context of the subject invention, imprinting will be understood not only to include such printing processes, but also impressing, watermarking, bonding, fusing, embossing, burning, stenciling and other processes by which indicia may be imparted to the substrate to communicate the desired advertising message. The precise method of imprinting will be coordinated with the choice of substrate, and vice versa. Printing the advertising message, however, is preferred for cost reasons and because it allows great flexibility in presenting the advertising message. Soy based inks and other inks approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in association with food products may be preferable or, under some circumstances, required by law. Preferably the advertising messages are preprinted on a suitable web prior to packaging. However, exterior or “show” sides of the packaging may be printed using noncontact methods, such as ink jet.

The advertising message, of course, will be determined by the advertiser. It will be appreciated, however, that when the message includes a manufacturer coupon redeemable by a consumer, it will be advisable to select substrates and imprinting methods that provide relatively high quality printing. That will improve machine readability of the bar code that as a practical matter must be associated with a manufacturer coupon. Also, while advertising messages may be preferred for most commercial purposes, the message may be in the nature of an inspirational, motivational, political message or any message that may be desired.

It also will be appreciated that while described as lid sections or sheets, the lid section or sheet in the novel container typically will also have an imprinted message on at least its exterior surface. In many instances, such messages will provide identification and information on the product that is contained in the package as is usually found in conventional cup containers. Thus, essential product information will still be provided on the container even when any message sheets or sections have been removed. Similarly, the message sheet also may be imprinted with product information, especially on the exterior face thereof, so that prior to removal of the message sheet important product information is still presented to the consumer. Additional messages, and especially advertising messages, for most purposes may be most advantageously imprinted on the inner faces of the message sheets. Moreover, although the novel containers are particularly useful in disseminating advertising messages other than those pertaining to the packaged product, all messages imprinted thereon may pertain to the packaged product.

It also will be appreciated that while all of the novel containers specifically described comprise a single cup, joined twin, triple and other multiple packs having, respectively, two, three, or more cups attached together are known. Accordingly, the subject invention is not limited to containers having a single cup. Multiple cup containers having advertising media as described herein are also within the scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.

Also, while the illustrated embodiments all have a generally rectangular shape, the subject invention is not limited thereto, nor is it limited to generally circular shaped cup containers as are also in common use. Cups having generally rectangular or circular shapes are preferred for many products because they efficiently utilize material and may be made relatively easily. The subject invention, however, is not limited to cup containers where the cup has any particular configuration. Cup containers having other shapes are known or may be devised and may be used in accordance with the subject invention. In general, the shape of the cup portion of the novel containers preferably will approximate the shape of conventional cup containers used to package a particular product.

Likewise, the novel containers are not limited to any particular size, but the cup portion of the novel containers also preferably will approximate the size and dimensions of conventional cup containers used to package the same product. It will be appreciated, however, that the novel containers have particular utility when a relatively small cup is desired, as such cup containers heretofore have been extremely limited in providing adequate space for advertising messages.

As with the cups, the message sheets or sections in the lidding for the novel containers are not limited to a particular size. For many applications it may be preferable to size the message sheets or sections such that they are equal to the size of the lid sheet so that the message area may be maximized for a given cup size and a given number of sheets or layers in the lidding. Such sizing also may be easier to accommodate in the context of conventional manufacturing processes. For other applications, however, it may be desired to leave a portion of the lid face carrying the message sheet exposed, so the message sheet may be sized accordingly. Similarly, while for many applications it may be desirable or required that the message sheet or section not extend beyond or away from the rest of the lidding, for other applications providing an oversized message sheet or section, or providing a message section that is not completely tacked down to the lid, may increase the visibility of the message imprinted thereon.

In particular, the novel containers are particularly suitable for packaging single-serve products, and especially single-serve food products. Single-serve products are generally understood to include products that are packaged in quantities suitable for immediate use or consumption. Thus, packaging for single-serve products typically are not resealable, as such products typically are opened, the entire quantity consumed or used, and the packaging discarded. Accordingly, the amount of product in single-serve products, and the packaging for single-serve products is relatively small. The novel cup containers, because they provide significantly greater imprintable area, may be quite small, yet still serve a medium for distributing advertising messages.

Moreover, it will be appreciated that the novel cup containers have significantly greater imprintable area, yet they do not necessarily occupy significantly more space. Even when multiple message sheets or folded message sheets are incorporated into the container lidding, the lidding is not significantly thicker than conventional lidding and the overall size of the container is virtually unchanged. This is a significant advantage as many single-serve products, especially those distributed through food service establishments, are dispensed in holders designed to accommodate certain, more or less standardized package sizes. The novel containers may be sized according to such conventions, yet still provide significantly larger areas for imprinting messages.

This advantage is even greater as the size of the container is diminished. Many single-serve products may be distributed under circumstances affording a consumer a relatively greater opportunity to view advertising messages. Again, single-serve products distributed through food service establishments provide a good example, as consumers often have considerable time to peruse such products while they wait for their food. Given the size of their containers, however, many single-serve products generally have only a small area available for imprinting a message.

Most commonly, conventional cup containers having rectangular configurations typically have a single lidding sheet that is from about 1.44″×2.19″ to about 2″×2.75″ in area, thus providing from about 3.15 to about 5.5 in2 of imprintable area on the outer face of the lid. Conventional circular shaped cup containers have a lid that is from about 1.3″ to about 3.15″ in diameter, thus providing from about 1.32 ; to about 7.79 in2 of imprintable area on their outer face. For example, single servings of jams and jellies are packaged in generally rectangular cup containers having a lid that typically is approximately 1.75″ by 2.25″ (3.94 in2). Single servings of coffee cream and flavorings are packaged in generally circular cup containers having lids that typically are approximately 1.38″ in diameter (4.10 in2). While the inner face of the lid usually is imprintable, many products will contaminate the inner face of the lid thus limiting its desirability as a medium for advertising or product messages. Thus, cup containers of such sizes have very limited imprintable area and are poorly suited to much more than basic product information and very simple branding messages, such as an advertisers'name, slogan, or logo.

In particular, as a practical matter it is impossible to provide a redeemable manufacturer coupon on many such cup containers because of size constraints. A manufacturer typically will include a bar code that is machine readable and used in systems that manage accounting between a coupon issuer and a merchant who honors the coupon. The size of such bar codes must be sufficiently large so that it may be easily and accurately read, but in doing so, there is little or no room left on a traditional message slip to associate an advertising message with the bar code.

In contrast, the novel containers may be fabricated with cups having sizes essentially the same as conventional containers, but with significantly greater imprintable area because they comprise a message section as well. For example, as compared to the outer face of conventional lidding, packaging jams and jellies in novel packages such as container 10 with a conventionally sized cup can provide 200% more imprintable area by providing a single message sheet the same size as the lid sheet. Alternately, the same container may be provided with two message sheets as in container 30 each message sheet having the same dimensions as the lid sheet. Thus, the message sections would provide four imprintable faces, increasing the total imprintable area in the lidding by 400%, and provide ample room for even two redeemable manufacture coupons having suitable bar coding for automated processing of the coupon. Since they have never come in contact with product in the cup, the message sheets also provide neat clean media that is more attractive to consumers. At the same time, because the novel container occupies very little more space than conventional containers, they may be dispensed in food service establishments, for example, in the same dispensers that are used to dispense conventionally packaged single serve jellies.

Other examples are set forth in Table 1. Table 1 shows the increase in imprintable area that is provided for by the novel containers for various single serve products in various preferred configurations and sizes where the cup container is either rectangular, oval, or circular and the lidding is constructed generally as shown in containers 10, 30, 50, and 70 above.

TABLE 1
Total
Nominal Number Message
Lidding Lid Sheet of Sht Total Increase in
Container Lidding Dimensions Imprintable Message Imprint. Imprintable Imprintable
Product Style Style (in) Area (in2) Sheets Area (in2) Area (in2) Area (%)
Jelly Rect. 10 1.75 × 2.25 7.88 1 7.88 15.75 100
Jelly Rect. 30 1.75 × 2.25 7.88 2 15.75 23.63 200
Jelly Rect. 50 1.75 × 2.25 7.88 1 15.75 23.63 200
Jelly Rect. 70 1.75 × 2.25 7.88 1 7.88 15.75 100
Sauce Rect. 10 2.56 × 1.62 8.29 1 8.29 16.58 100
Sauce Rect. 30 2.56 × 1.62 8.29 2 16.58 24.87 200
Sauce Rect. 50 2.56 × 1.62 8.29 1 16.58 24.87 200
Sauce Rect. 70 2.56 × 1.62 8.29 1 8.29 16.58 100
Sauce Rect. 10 1.88 × 2.19 8.20 1 8.20 16.40 100
Sauce Rect. 30 1.88 × 2.19 8.20 2 16.40 24.60 200
Sauce Rect. 50 1.88 × 2.19 8.20 1 16.40 24.60 200
Sauce Rect. 70 1.88 × 2.19 8.20 1 8.20 16.40 100
Sauce Oval 10  2.5 × 1.88* 8.24 1 8.24 16.48 100
Sauce Oval 30  2.5 × 1.88* 8.24 2 16.48 24.72 200
Sauce Oval 50  2.5 × 1.88* 8.24 1 16.48 24.72 200
Sauce Oval 70  2.5 × 1.88* 8.24 1 8.24 16.48 100
Creamer Circular 10 1.38 2.94 1 2.94 5.88 100
Creamer Circular 30 1.38 2.94 2 5.88 8.82 200
Creamer Circular 10 1.31 2.70 1 2.70 5.40 100
Creamer Circular 30 1.31 2.70 2 5.40 8.10 200
Sauce Circular 10 2.25 7.94 1 7.94 15.88 100
Sauce Circular 30 2.25 7.94 2 15.88 23.82 200
Sauce Circular 10 3.00 14.14 1 14.14 28.28 100
Sauce Circular 30 3.00 14.14 2 28.28 42.42 200
*Dimensions given are length of oval axes.

As may be seen from Table 1, the novel containers provide much more imprintable area than conventional containers having the same lidding dimensions, the imprintable area of conventional containers being substantially equal to the imprintable area of the lid sheet alone. Viewed from another perspective, while the imprintable area provided on conventional lidding is substantially equal to twice the nominal size of the lidding, the lidding of the subject invention provides imprintable areas that are many multiples of the lidding area. For example, the lidding in container 10, whether in a generally rectangular or circular configuration, will provide a total imprintable area that is four times the nominal size of the lidding itself. The lidding in container 30 will provide a total imprintable area equal to six times the nominal size of the lidding. Preferably, the message sheets or sections are sized to provide at least three, and more preferably at least four or six times the nominal size of the lidding.

It also should be noted that in Table 1 the imprintable area for the lid sheet and the total imprintable area includes both faces of the lid sheet, even though as a practical matter the inner face is rarely used as a medium and the outer face's suitability for use as a medium for certain messages, such as coupons, is extremely limited. That is because in conventional cup containers, the lidding and whatever advertising message may be imprinted thereon is considered trash once the cup is opened. When the product is a liquid, paste or any other product that leaves a residue, the consumer may take great pains to avoid further contact with the cup and lidding. Thus, for many products, including those packaged in the novel containers, the inner face of the lid becomes contaminated and is generally unsuitable for imprinting either product or advertising messages, and even if it is sufficiently large, the outer face of the lid also is poorly suited for providing a coupon. The novel containers, however, not only have much more imprintable area, but the increase in imprintable area provides message areas that are never in contact with product in the cup and which are separable from the cup preferably without opening the cup. Thus, the consumer is provided with, for example, a neat clean coupon that he or she may eventually redeem, all without encountering any messy residues.

As noted herein, the novel containers are particularly suited to single serve products which typically are relatively small, and especially, to food and other single serve products, because lidding with a relatively small nominal size may have a relatively large amount of imprintable area, thereby allowing them to incorporate manufacturer coupons and other more sophisticated messages. Accordingly, especially preferred embodiments of the novel containers will have lidding which has a nominal size of 4 in2 or less and a total imprintable area of at least 16 in2 , more preferably a nominal size of 6 in2 or less and a total imprintable area of at least 24 in2, and more preferably a nominal size of 8 in2 or less and a total imprintable area of at least 32 in2. (As used herein, the nominal size of lidding does not include the thickness of the lidding and should be understood to refer to the dimensions of that portion of the lidding sealed across the opening of the cup. For example, rectangular cup containers such as those shown in the preferred embodiments 10, 30, 50, and 70 are commonly used to package jelly and the flange to which the lidding is sealed is jelly cups very commonly is 1.75″×2.25″. Thus, the nominal size of the lidding for all such containers would be 1.75″×2.25″ or 3.94 in2.)

When a redeemable coupon is imprinted on the novel lidding, especially a manufacturer issued coupon that is to be redeemed through a retailer, the coupon preferably includes the common features of coupons commonly in use. Such features include an offer value, such as “$1 Off”, and additional offer details such as an indication of the product, package size, locations where the coupon may be redeemed, and an expiration date. It is especially preferred that the coupon incorporate machine readable indicia, such as bar codes, that will facilitate the automated processing of the coupon. Preferably the bar codes imprinted on the message section meets standards for UPC bar codes utilizing the UCC/EAN-128 Article Numbering System as are known in the industry, but other codes may be used and other information may be encoded therein. It also will be appreciated that other machine readable indicia may be provided in association with the coupon or other advertising message, such as suitably encoded magnetic media films, or such other indicia and readers and systems as may hereafter be developed or put into common use for processing coupons.

It also will be appreciated that the novel containers may be produced by making relatively minor modifications to conventional processes and machinery for making cup containers. As is well known in the art, such machinery includes continuous form, fill and seal machinery for packaging a variety of products. Such machinery first thermoforms or pressure molds a plurality of cups from a web of suitable material such as those mentioned above, most commonly in an array including a number of lanes. The cups then are filled and sealed with a continuous web of suitable lidding material, thus forming an array of sealed cups. The array of sealed cups then are die cut into individual containers or, if desired, into combo packs including more than one cup and preferably having suitable perforations to enable consumers to more easily separate the cups from each other. Manufactures of such equipment include Autoprod Incorporated, Clearwater, Fla. U.S.A., Osgood Industries, Inc., Oldsmar, Fla., U.S.A., Winpak Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Other processes, however, utilize preformed cups, preformed lidding, or both preformed cups and lidding which are fed individually into the machine for filling and sealing. Such processes and machinery, however, typically are not as cost or time efficient as continuous form, fill and seal processes and machinery, and therefore, especially when relatively high volumes are required, may not be preferred.

The methods of the subject invention are directed to disseminating advertising messages to consumers. The novel methods comprise packaging a product in a cup container having an advertising message associated therewith which may be viewed by a consumer, the cup container being one of the novel cup containers. That is, the containers are selected from the group consisting of the novel containers described herein or any subgroup thereof. The packaged product with the advertising message is distributed to a consumer outlet and then distributed to consumers associated with the consumer outlet. The advertising message is thereby distributed to consumers of the product.

It is especially preferred that the novel cup containers be used to distribute single-serve food products distributed to consumer outlets such as restaurants, concessions, institutions, and other food service establishments. It will be appreciated that consumers in such outlets often have a greater opportunity to view advertising messages while they wait for and consume food. It is expected, therefore, that the view rates for messages distributed via the novel methods will be significantly greater than view rates for other types of direct advertising.

The subject invention also provides for novel methods for packaging and distributing products for dissemination to a target consumer group. Those methods comprise packing a product in a cup container having associated therewith an advertising message pertaining to products or services other than the packaged product, the advertising message being intended for a target consumer group. The packaged product then is packaged in a shipping carton having a machine readable indicator uniquely associated with the advertising message. The indicator then is read and, in response to the reading, the carton containing the packaged product is shipped to consumer outlets associated with the target consumer group. The advertising message then may be disseminated to the target consumer group through the consumer outlets.

The novel methods are particularly suitable for distributing single-serve food products packaged in the novel cup containers through restaurants, concessions, institutions and other food service establishments. Consumers in such establishments typically have a greater opportunity to view advertisements while they are waiting for or consuming their food. It is expected, therefore, that such advertising campaigns will have relatively higher view and response rates as compared to many conventional direct advertising methods.

For example, an advertiser may wish to limit its campaign to consumers in a specific geographical area or associated with specific types of consumer outlets. A code or other indicator may be assigned to that message and stored in a machine readable format or medium which is printed, affixed, or otherwise associated with the shipping carton for products containing the advertiser's message. The indicator then may be read so that the product will be shipped only to consumer outlets in the geographic area or of the particular type targeted by the advertiser.

The shipping cartons may be any carton suitable for shipping the packaged product and many such cartons are known and currently in use. Likewise, the machine readable indicator, and the apparatus for reading such indicators, may be selected from any such systems as are known in the art For example, the indicator could be a bar code readable by conventional bar code readers. Alternately, the indicator could be text or numerical code that may be scanned and interpreted by conventional scan readers. The indicator also could be encoded on a microchip, magnetic strip, or other media for recording data. Other systems for storing and reading an indicator are known and may be used if desired.

It will be appreciated, therefore, that the novel methods allow for efficient and effective dissemination of advertising messages to targeted consumers.

For example, the novel methods most commonly will involve the flow of information through four basic entities, (1) an agency that coordinates the flow of information and product from (2) a client who has an advertising or other message for dissemination, (3) a packager who packages product in cup containers for distribution by or under the authority of (4) a perceived source or “manufacturer” of the product. It will be appreciated, of course, that in some situations, those entities may be the same entity, such as when a manufacturer desires to disseminate an advertising message, such as a coupon that may be included toward future purchases of a product being sampled. For some products the perceived source or “manufacturer” may actually make and package the product, but for other products the manufacture may contract with an independent packager who may produce as well as package the product. Likewise, those entities may utilize subcontractors, suppliers, and the like.

The process generally begins with message specifications provided to the agency by the client. Those specifications include instructions as to the content and format of the message to be imprinted on the lidding of the novel containers, for example, an advertising coupon, and the quantity of messages to be disseminated and the time period over which the messages will be distributed. The instructions also may include the products with which the message will be associated, and/or the consumers to whom the message will be disseminated. It will be appreciated that a particular message may be targeted to particular consumers by associating the message with particular products, particular brands of products, products to be distributed in a particular geographical area, products to be distributed through particular consumer outlets or types of consumer outlets, or a combination of those and other factors believed to be associated with the targeted consumers.

The message specifications of the client will be coordinated with specifications provided by the manufacturer as to product information that also will appear on the lidding, such as the manufacturer's trademark, artwork, the generic name for the product, and quantity and nutritional information. In particular, if the client has specified that its message is to be disseminated through certain products or certain brands of products, the client specifications will be coordinated with the specifications of the appropriate manufacturers. It also will be appreciated that the message specifications will be coordinated, usually by the agency, with the production schedule of the packager, especially where the message will be disseminated to targeted consumers, as the quantity of such messages generally will be limited by expected production and sales levels for the specific products with which the message will be associated.

Lidding is then prepared based on the client (or multiple client) specifications and the manufacturer (or multiple manufacturers) specifications. Most advantageously the lidding is in the form of a continuous web of material that is suitable for use in continuous form, fill, and seal processes and machinery. As discussed above, however, packaging may proceed by other methods and machinery, and lidding appropriate to such methods and machinery will be prepared.

Preferably, the client specifications are transmitted from a central computer maintained by the agency through a network, such as the Internet, dedicated, or dial-up networks, to a computer or computer system maintained by the packager to control its inventory and operation of its packaging equipment. The packager's system preferably is in communication with any subcontractor systems, such as systems maintained by a lidding fabricator, so as to facilitate the preparation of the lidding and the subsequent packaging of product as described herein. Also, once the lidding has been prepared, a code or other indicator, such as a bar code, may be assigned to that message and stored in a machine readable format or medium which is printed, affixed, or otherwise associated with the lidding itself or the web roll, cassettes, jigs, or packaging in which the lidding material is handled prior to its use in the packaging process.

The packager then packages product as described above using the lidding in accordance with the client specifications. For example, if the client has specified a particular type of product or brand of product, the lidding will be used to package that product. Also, the product will be packaged in the quantities specified by the client. Preferably, once communicated to the packager's computer system, the relevant client specifications, e.g., product and product quantity, are communicated to automated, computer controlled packaging equipment in the packager's facility. The packaging equipment also are preferably provided with suitable readers for reading the message code associated with the lidding means so that the lidding is applied to the specified product. The equipment may also include suitable means, such as ink jet sprayers, to apply, affix, or otherwise associate a code or other indicator, such as a bar code, associated with the client message which is in a machine readable format or medium to the package, such as the cup.

Once the product is packaged using the lidding, it is then packed and distributed in accordance with the client specifications. For example, the client may have specified that the message be distributed only through particular consumer outlets, such as certain retailers or types of retailers, in certain geographic areas, or certain time periods. In particular, client specifications as to the distribution of the product may further its purpose of reaching targeted consumers. Preferably, especially when the cup containers are relatively small as are typical of single serve products, the packaged products are packaged in a shipping carton having a machine readable indicator uniquely associated with the advertising message. The indicator then is read and, in response to the reading, the carton containing the packaged product is shipped to consumer outlets associated with the target consumer group. The advertising message then may be disseminated to the target consumer group through the consumer outlets.

While this invention has been disclosed and discussed primarily in terms of specific embodiments thereof, it is not intended to be limited thereto. Other modifications and embodiments will be apparent to the worker in the art.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8528939Sep 2, 2010Sep 10, 2013Saxon, Inc.Mountable coupon card assembly
US20120110958 *Nov 7, 2011May 10, 2012Sherri Lee AthayMethod for Encasing a Confectionery Product
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/484, 206/217
International ClassificationB65D73/00
Cooperative ClassificationG09F3/10, G09F3/02
European ClassificationG09F3/10, G09F3/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 26, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: 2204ADPLOY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:THUESEN, MARCUS L.;BRANA, LEJO C.;REEL/FRAME:015399/0967
Effective date: 20040526