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45+ examples of misleading / excessive packaging fails

Ian Heskins: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Brand Positioning | Guides and Advice xx 31628

Packaging to Make You Laugh (or Cry)

A collection of poorly thought through packaging from around the world

As a manufacturer of packaging, GWP take obvious pride in the boxes, cartons, inserts, cases and RTP that is produced for our customers.

But’s that not to say we don’t find some packaging pointless, excessive, unnecessary or even downright ridiculous.

As such, this light-hearted guide provides a collection of some of the worst offending packaging we have seen.

It covers:

  • Packaging that is excessive, oversized or completely unnecessary
  • Retail packs that are unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally in some cases) misleading
  • Some that really should have been checked before production
  • Plus some clever packaging ideas to add a bit of balance

Please continue reading below, or use the table of contents to go straight to your particular area of interest.

Quick Reference / Contents

01: Excessive Packaging

Where less is definitely more

One of the most common gripes with packaging is the excessive or oversized nature of it.

Stories of Amazon or other large retailers sending ecommerce packaging which is comically oversized even hits the mainstream press with reasonable regularity.

And due to the increasing move towards online shopping (something clearly documented in the increased popularity of Black Friday events), it would appear to be an issue that many businesses still haven’t got to grips with.

Examples of excessive packaging

Please see below for a range of examples where simply too much (or too large) packaging has been used.

Excessive ecommerce packaging
All this for a printer cartridge
Excessive packaging
More ridiculously oversized packaging
Excessive pharmaceutical packaging
All this for a single pill?
Excessive plastic packaging
Such a huge pack for a tiny product
Excess packaging
Could have used an envelope?
Needless packaging
Maybe one box would have worked?
Overpacked products
Protective packaging for... protective packaging
Oversized packaging box
Waste of space
Ridiculous packaging
Need to "cut" down on the excess packaging
Shipping fresh air
That's two shoe laces!

Lessons to learn

Whilst it can be incredibly difficult to always use appropriate sized packaging – particularly if you have a huge inventory of products – common sense should usually prevail.

As such it is important to a have sensible sized range of packaging (covering a range of potential requirements) and combine this with staff training so that your employees can make a good decision when picking a carton or box to send an order in.

For any assistance in assessing your current packaging inventory – and its suitability for your business – please contact us here at GWP.

Credits / Sources

Thanks to the following sites who have supplied the images for this section.

Please note that GWP takes no responsibility for the content of these web pages / sites, and that some of them may be deemed NSFW (not suitable for work).

02: Unnecessary Packaging

Examples where packaging simply isn’t needed

Another trend that is causing increased frustration amongst many consumers is adding packaging to products where it simply isn’t required.

With more and more people becoming concerned about the impact on the environment of packaging, unnecessary packaging often gets a lot of negative publicity.

This in turn can lead to disgruntled and infuriated shoppers, harming both your business’ sales and reputation.

Examples of unnecessary packaging

The following examples highlight some of the worst cases of packaging being used where none was required.

Needless packaging
Individually wrapped slices of bread?
Packaging not needed
A pallet delivered on... a pallet!
Unnecessary packaging
No words for this one
Unnecessary fruit packaging
The height of laziness
Unnecessary food packaging
If only bananas had a protective outer skin
Unnecessary drink packaging
Surely the can on it's own was enough?
Pointless packaging
More individually wrapped items
Unnecessary- plastic packaging
Do you still have to peel it?

Lessons to learn

Packaging is absolutely essential in many scenarios. It can not only protect products, but also enhance their usable lifespan as well.

But just stop and think about whether the packaging is actually required. And how your target consumers will react to being presented with this excess material that will need to be disposed of. And bear in mind that if your product can (or should) have less packaging, then it will also reduce the associated costs to your business as well.

If you need any assistance with packaging reduction, then GWP would be happy to help.

Credits / Sources

The sources of the images above are as follows.

Please note that GWP takes no responsibility for the content found on these websites, and please bear in mind some of them may be deemed NSFW (not suitable for work).

03: Misleading Packaging

Why it isn’t wise to trick your customers

Packaging is undoubtedly a powerful sales tool. But, as the saying goes, with power comes responsibility.

In fact, it would appear that some businesses and brands – whether unconsciously or deliberately – set out to mislead their customers about what the packaging actually contains.

This can only end badly, with consumers knowing to avoid specific brands and products in the future, as well as forming negative opinions of companies that can be difficult (or nigh on impossible) to change.

Examples of misleading packaging

Please see below for some of the worst examples of misleading packaging.

Misleading food packaging
Still hungry?
Misleading packaging
Clever (or sneaky) pepperoni here
Misleading packaging tray
The depths of deception
Misleading print
Always read the small print
Misleading sandwich packaging
Now I'm really hungry
Misleading promotions
Surely that is the same amount?
Sneaky packaging
Another waste of space
Pizza packaging
At least there was more pepperoni on the last one
Missing chocolate
Where's the rest?
Wasteful packaging
Won't somebody please think of the children

Lessons to learn

In short, don’t try to trick to your target consumers!

Whilst misleading packaging may result in short term revenue, the longer term, negative impact on your sales and brand perception will more than offset this.

Take an honest, ethical and longer term view to what your packaging should communicate, and hold your hands up if you make a mistake.

Credits / Sources

The images above have been found on the following pages.

Please note that GWP takes no responsibility for the content provided by following these links, and that some of them may be considered NSFW (not suitable for work).

04: Hilarious Packaging Fails

Packaging that should never have made it to production

If some of the misleading packaging in the previous section was amusing, we are into the realms of pure comedy here.

There is no other way to describe some of these examples as anything other than complete packaging fails.

And whilst some businesses may believe in the old adage that no publicity is bad publicity, the likely impact making mistakes such as these could have on your business is only going to be negative.

Examples of packaging fails

If you would like to view some examples of hilarious packaging fails, then please see below.

Christmas packaging fail
At least they're not wasting their Easter stock
Drink packaging fail
So is that 100% of 27%?
Drinks packaging fails
You had one job...
Food packaging fails
So which is it?
Food packaging mistakes
Odd looking strawberries
Funny packaging
Not sure that's how you use a toilet?
Funny packaging mistakes
Someones just being funny here?
Hilarious packaging
What breed is this?
Packaging fails
Packaging mistakes
That's the BBQ ruined...
Pointless packaging
No case needed either
Ridiculous packaging mistake
Guess you could share them with yourself
Stupid packaging mistakes
So is the word stupid using that logic

Lessons to learn

Check, check and check again!

Even if you are up against tight deadlines, it is always crucial to double and triple check every element of your packaging before it signed off for production.

It is also wise to get a fresh pair of eyes to check over designs before they are approved, as this can help to identify mistakes which may otherwise have been missed.

Ultimately, checking your packaging for errors can prevent costly recalls, reputational damage for your brand and ultimately lost sales.

Credits / Sources

The source of the images in this section are as follows.

However, please note that GWP takes no responsibility for any content provided by these websites. Some of them may also be NSFW (not suitable for work).

05: Clever Packaging Ideas

Interesting ideas that can provide consumer engagement

Finally, in order to provide a bit of balance to the above, the following section provides a number of examples of clever packaging.

It can often be the small touches – many of which may go unnoticed – that can surprise and delight consumers, helping to forge a sense of brand loyalty.

Examples of clever packaging

Please see below for a number of clever packaging ideas.

Clever packaging design
Thinking outside the box
Hidden packaging message
Subliminal messaging!
Clever packaging label
How many people would even notice this?
Clever packaging print
Funny packaging print
Worryingly, this is probably a useful instruction for some people

Lessons to learn

It is really important to pay attention to the small details.

Doing so can not only help to engage your target consumers, but also shows them that you care about the product that you are providing to them. This in turn helps with your brand positioning, can provide your goods with an impression of quality, and can ultimately help to increase your sales.

Credits / Sources

Thanks to the following websites that provide the source for these images.

As with the links above, GWP can take no responsibility for any content provided by these websites, and please note some of the content they contain may be NSFW (not suitable for work).

In Summary

Understanding what makes your packaging successful

Many businesses can underestimate just how much impact their packaging can have on their success.

This is why it is critical to invest a suitable level of time and attention to your packaging, and ensure you work with a designer / manufacturer that can help to ensure your packaging is a success.

If you would like assistance with an upcoming packaging project, have existing issues that you would like help in resolving, or simply want a fresh pair of eyes to asses where you currently stand, GWP will be happy to help. Please get in touch with a member of our team today.

Further Reading...

About the Author

Ian Heskins

Ian Heskins

Business Development Director | GWP Group

Ian is one of the founding Directors of GWP, using his broad knowledge acquired over more than 30 years to oversee new business strategy [Read full bio…]

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