Title:
Promotional carton
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A promotional article for insertion into a carton containing beverage bottles or cans. The article comprises a premium attached to a tray-like member which is provided with means to engage and be borne by one, but preferably more, of the bottles or cans to accurately position the premium within the carton without distorting any wall thereof. The invention also provides a promotional package comprising the article and beverage-filled bottles or cans in a carton and a method of producing same.



Inventors:
Miziolek, Edward S. J. (Richmond Hill, CA)
Rutledge, Thomas S. (Sarnia, CA)
Application Number:
10/739179
Publication Date:
08/19/2004
Filing Date:
12/19/2003
Assignee:
MIZIOLEK EDWARD S. J.
RUTLEDGE THOMAS S.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/445
International Classes:
B65D71/00; B65D71/36; (IPC1-7): B65B35/30; B65D65/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
James W. Kerr (303 Richmond Street, London, ON, N6B 2H8, CA)
Claims:

What we claim is:



1. A promotional package comprising a carton having a complement of beverage-filled primary containers and a premium, said premium being attached to a support member which is located over, retained and borne by one or more of said primary containers at a position in said carton which does not significantly distort any wall of said carton.

2. A package according to claim 1 which has a top wall overlying and adjacent to extremities of said primary containers.

3. A package according to claim 1 wherein said carton comprises serially; top, rear, bottom and front interconnected walls, means connecting said top wall to said front wall to form a tubular sleeve, opposing pairs of panels connected by hinge lines to the free edges of respective top, rear, bottom, and front walls and extending substantially the length thereof, each panel folded to overlie its opposing panel to overlie and be secured thereto to form an end wall at each end of said sleeve.

4. A package according to claim 1 wherein said carton has at least one wall comprised of shrink-wrapped plastic material.

5. A package according to claim 1 wherein all walls of said carton are comprised of shrink-wrapped plastic material.

6. A package according to claim 1 wherein said support member is provided with one or more depressions or protuberances adapted to engage and be restrained by one or more upper extremities of one or more of said primary container.

7. A package according to claim 1 wherein said support member is provided with one or more apertures each being adapted to allow passage there through of the upper portion of said primary containers which bear said support member.

8. A package comprising: a carton having top, rear, bottom and front interconnected walls, means connecting said top to said front wall to form a sleeve, each of said walls having a flap foldably connected to each end thereof to provide a series of said flaps at each end of said carton, each of said series of flaps being foldable to form an end wall, said carton containing a complement of at least six beverage-filled and sealed primary containers and a support member carrying a premium, which support member is located over and is restrained and borne by at least four of said primary containers in such a manner that none of said carton walls is significantly distorted.

9. A package according to claim 6 wherein said support member is generally planer and is borne by six primary containers.

10. A package according to claim 7 wherein said support member has six depressions, each adapted to receive and engage an upper extremity of a primary container and be retained thereby.

11. A promotional article for delivering a premium to a consumer purchasing a plurality of beverage-filled primary containers in a carton, said article comprising a support member to which said premium is attached, said support member being adapted to be located over and retained by at least one primary container in said carton without distorting any wall of said carton.

12. An article according to claim 9 wherein said support member is a tray provided with one or more depressions or protuberances adapted to receive, be retained and supported by an uppermost extremity of at least two of said primary containers.

13. A process for preparing a promotional beverage package containing a plurality of product containers and a premium, said process comprising: affixing a premium to a support member which member is adapted to be carried by one or more beverage-containing primary containers; agglomerating a random stream of primary containers to form a group to be inserted into a carton which forms part of said package; placing said support onto at least one primary container in said group; inserting said group and associated supplied into a carton; and sealing said carton

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to containers or cartons and retail promotional packages including same.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The provision of packaging means, for example, secondary containers or cartons for the distribution of beverages such as bottles or cans of beer, soft drinks or the like in primary containers is a major aspect of the beverage manufacturing industry, especially in North America. The container should be of the lowest possible cost consistent with providing the required functionality. It is usually supplied to the beverage manufacturer in a flat (i.e. “knocked down” condition) and is conveniently and rapidly erectable by commercially available equipment for reception of beverage-filled bottles or cans and sealed following such filling. It should be noted that such secondary containers generally enclose six, twelve or up to twenty-four bottles or cans which when filled, constitute a relatively heavy load and place quite severe mechanical strains on the container. Moreover, especially in the Canadian context where all such bottles and cans are returnable, it is very important that the secondary container is adapted to receive the bottles and cans when empty to enable same to be transported to a collection facility. Even when the bottles or cans are empty, they still present a significant loading. The result is that when the container is filled with full or empty bottles or cans and are being carried, there is a force created which the carton must absorb otherwise obviously disadvantageous results would ensue. In this latter situation, the flaps forming the top wall of the container will generally not be positively secured to each other by adhesive or other means and there is consequently some loss of structural rigidly when using the container to transport the empty returnable bottles or cans to a collection facility or the like. In such circumstances, it is important that any other demands or requirements made on the container do not further weaken it structurally to the extent it cannot fulfil this function.

[0003] Further, in recent years the marketing of packaged beverages has increasingly used promotional items, such as discount coupons, “scratch and win” cards; prize winning tickets and the like printed items. The distribution of such printed items can be expensive and problematic. For example, they can simply be included as a loose insert in the carton or printed on the exterior of the carton. Loose coupons may be damaged in the loading of the carton, lost or overlooked. Coupons printed directly onto the packaging are generally not easily removed and, if they are removed, the packaging is damaged or mutilated resulting in structural problems for the remaining life of the package with particular emphasis on required re-use of the package as in the beverage industry as described above. In many cases, and again, the beverage industry is a prime example, such items cannot be simply affixed to the outside of the carton because it interrupts its flat surfaces and prevents the demands made on the carton during its functional life such as when it is stacked in stores or being transported. Also, there are security aspects of the package that must be considered i.e. the promotional item should preferably not be visible and, if removed, that fact should be readily apparent from the condition of the carton.

[0004] There are significant problems in including premiums of a 3-D nature, such as key rings; bottle openers; golf balls etc. in cartons, especially end loading cartons. Obviously, such items cannot be simply dropped into the carton since, there is no top opening at the time of filling. The bottles or cans are assembled using a conveyor system into a loose “block” comprising the desired number of bottles, e.g. six to be inserted into a six-pack etc. and these are urged into an erected end-loading carton having the top, bottom and sides formed. Following inserting the bottles into the carton, the end walls, which seals the carton, are formed by a mechanical system over lapping and securing the side and end wall flaps to each other. It should be noted that the tops of the closures sealing the beverage in the bottle or can is virtually, if not actually, in contact with the adjacent carton top wall. In other words, there is virtually no headspace above the closure to position a premium.

[0005] An object of the present invention is to provide a carton for placing a product in the retail sales process, which carton is adapted to carry a promotional item which can be accurately inserted into the carton and be mentioned there during transit to the consumer without materially affecting the subsequently desired functionality of the package.

STATEMENT OF INVENTION

[0006] The present invention provides a promotional package comprising a secondary carton containing a complement of filled primary beverage containers, such as bottles or cans, and a premium. The premium is attached to a support member which is adapted to be located over and be carried or borne by the primary containers. The premium support member may be a tray adapted to be supported by the crowns or tops used to seal the primary containers, for example by being provided with one or more upwardly extending depressions which extend over and are engaged by the crowns if the primary containers are bottles. Alternatively in the case of cans, which usually have an upstanding lip on their upper surface which forms a depression in the top of the can, the support member is provided with downwardly extending protuberance or projection which fits into the depression thereby preventing the support member, and premium, from moving, for example slipping off the cans. Alternatively the support member can be adapted for example by being provided apertures or slots, to allow the support to be carried by the bottle or can to a position below the bottle or can closure.

[0007] The carton may be made of paperboard material, such as corrugated board. However, one or more walls of the carton may be formed of a plastic material, in particular, heat shrinkable plastic material applied to the desired complement of primary containers following creating the combination of same with the promotional article.

[0008] More specifically, the present invention provides a promotional package comprising a carton having a complement of beverage-filled primary containers such as bottles and cans and a premium, said premium being attached to a support member which is located over, retained and borne by one or more of said primary containers at a position in said carton which does not significantly distort any wall of said carton.

[0009] It is preferred that the carton is an end loader comprises serially; top, rear, bottom and front interconnected walls, means connecting said top wall to said front wall to form a tubular sleeve, opposing pairs of panels connected by hinge lines to the free edges of respective top, rear, bottom, and front walls and extending substantially the length thereof, each panel folded to overlie its opposing panel to overlie and be secured thereto to form an end wall at each end of said sleeve. In use, the top wall overlies and adjacent to extremities of said primary containers. The support member is provided with one or more depressions or protuberances adapted to engage and be restrained by upper extremities of one or more of said primary containers. In an alternative embodiment, the support member is provided with one or more apertures each of which is adapted to allow passage there through of the upper or neck portion of said primary containers which then carry said support member at a position below the location of the primary containers closure member.

[0010] The package may contain various numbers of primary containers, for example, 2, 4, 6, 12 or 24, with at least 6 being preferred.

[0011] In a further aspect the present invention provides a package comprising: a carton having top, rear, bottom and front interconnected walls, means connecting said top to said front wall to form a sleeve, each of said walls having a flap foldably connected to each end thereof to provide a series of said flaps at each end of said carton, each of said series of flaps being foldable to form an end wall, said carton containing a complement of at least six beverage-filled and sealed primary containers and a support member carrying a premium, which support member is located over and is restrained and borne by at least four of said primary containers in such a manner that none of said carton walls is significantly distorted.

[0012] It is preferred that the support member is generally planer and is borne by six primary containers. The support member preferably has at least two but especially has six depressions, each adapted to receive and engage an upper extremity of a primary container and be retained thereby. In another embodiment, the invention provides a promotional article for delivering a premium to a consumer purchasing a plurality of beverage-filled primary containers in a carton, said article comprising a support member to which said premium is attached, said support member being adapted to be located over and retained by at least one primary container in said carton without distorting any wall of said carton.

[0013] It is preferred that the said support member is a tray provided with one or more depressions or protuberances adapted to receive, be retained and supported by an uppermost extremity of at least two of said primary containers. However, the support member may also have apertures which allow the necks of the bottles or cans to pass through allowing the support member to contact and be carried by another part of the primary container.

[0014] In yet a further embodiment the present invention provides a method for preparing a promotional beverage package containing a plurality of product containers and a premium, said method comprising:

[0015] affixing a premium to a support member which member is adapted to be carried by one or more beverage-containing primary containers;

[0016] agglomerating a random stream of primary containers preferably on a conveyor to form a group to be inserted into a carton which forms part of said package;

[0017] placing said support member over at least one primary container in said group such that it is supported thereby with the premium located in a void not occupied by the primary containers;

[0018] inserting said group and associated support member into a carton; and

[0019] sealing said carton.

[0020] It is especially preferred that the carton is an end loading carton.

DRAWINGS

[0021] The present invention will now be further described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0022] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a filled generally rectangular cross-section tubular end loading carton with the end through which the bottles were inserted left open;

[0023] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of part of the carton of FIG. 1 after closure of all flaps required to form one end wall;

[0024] FIG. 3 is a simple diagrammatic view of a conveyor system used to assemble the required number of bottles in the desired configuration for insertion into end loading carton of FIGS. 1 and 2;

[0025] FIG. 4 is a plan view of a premium support article of the invention;

[0026] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line Y-Y in FIG. 4 showing upwardly extending depressions receiving a sealed bottle neck;

[0027] FIG. 6 is a similar view to that of FIG. 5 but showing a premium support member provided with downwardly extending protuberances which are located in the depression in the top of a sealed can;

[0028] FIG. 7 is an alternative embodiment of a premium support article, this carrying a golf ball as the premium;

[0029] FIG. 8 is a cross-section along the line Z-Z of FIG. 7;

[0030] FIG. 9 is yet another alternative embodiment of the premium support member;

[0031] FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a 12-pack of bottled beer, partially open showing the support article of FIG. 9 in position and engaged by the bottles.

[0032] FIG. 11 is a partial cross-sectional view along the line X-X in FIG. 2 showing the premium support member of FIGS. 7 and 8 in position in a sealed carton.

[0033] FIG. 12 is a partial side cross-sectional view in the direction of arrow A in FIG. 10.

[0034] Referring to the drawings, a set-up or erected carton blank 1 comprises four serially connected rectangular walls or panels 2, 3, 4, 5 of the same length. Connected to panel 5, which is the top wall in the erected carton, is an edge flap 6, bonded to panel 2 so that the blank forms, when erected, a tubular elongated rectangular cross-section carton. Preferably, the edge flap 6 is bonded to flap 2 with glue. An end flap, 9, 10, 11, 12 (the latter two) is connected to each end of each panel 4 and 5 forming a shorter side of said cross-section and a side flap 19, 20, 21, 22 (19 and 22 not being shown) is connected to each end of each panel 2 and 3 forming a longer side of said cross-section.

[0035] In use, the blank is preferably employed for packaging an item 30, examples of such items 30 are “long-necked” beer bottles which have a wide diameter base and a long tapering neck. The length of the neck 42 is such that there are voids 43—refer FIG. 11—between adjacent bottle necks 42 and between each bottle neck 42 and an adjacent wall such as 33 and smaller voids 44 between the main bodies 44 of four adjacent bottles and those bodies and adjacent walls. It should be noted however, that there is very little if any space between each top 38 of beer closure 39 and the interior surface of top wall 5—refer FIG. 12. In effect top wall 5 rests on the bottle closures 33 when the cartons are stacked etc. and maintaining a smooth plane surface is important and significant distortion is potentially very serious to subsequent steps in the packaging operation and stacking thereof.

[0036] In the packaging process, refer FIG. 3, filled bottles 30 pass from the labeller (not shown) on a conveyor 31 in an unorderly stream 32 which is then coerced into more orderly single lines 33 of bottles. Subsequently, in one widely used system, a series of flight bars (not shown) extending latterly across the conveyor 31 further divide the bottles into groups or blocks 34 containing the correct number of bottles 30 in the required configuration that the bottles will take up in the carton 1. Finally, a pusher bar 35 oriented parallel to the conveyor 31 and of a length equivalent to the block 34 of bottles, contacts a block 34 of bottles urging that block off the conveyor 31 and into an end loading carton 1 having, in this case, one end 36 already sealed but the second end 37 open to receive the bottles—refer also to FIG. 1. The equipment to effect this operation is widely available from, for example, Mead Packaging. It will be readily appreciated that the bottles 30 prior to their insertion into the carton 1 are in a relatively loose and moving condition. Obviously, it is relatively simple when cartons are loaded by dropping the bottles through an open carton top, to also drop or insert a premium into the carton. However, this just cannot be done using the usual end loading process since dropping a premium onto the block of bottles would need to be effected prior to being urged into the carton and that to date has not really been practical for obvious reasons.

[0037] In an alternative embodiment, the “block” of bottles or other primary containers are packaged by being enclosed within a heat deformable plastic material film and the whole package is subjected to a heat stage, usually by passing through a heating tunnel, when the film shrinks to contact and hold together the primary containers. The result is known as a “shrink-wrapped” container and such a package is included within the term of “carton” as used herein. In order to provide further rigidity to the shrink-wrapped package, it may be preferable to locate the block of bottles on a tray or like member, before enclosing the whole within the plastic film envelope.

[0038] Therefore, in the practice of the present invention, that problem is solved by using a “premium support” member—refer to FIGS. 4-12. Turning to FIG. 4, support member 50 comprises a rectangular shaped board material having two holes 54, each dimensioned to fit over the cap 33 of a bottle 41. In this embodiment, each hole 54 is traversed by a strip of thin tape 56, the length of which is arranged to extend over both holes 54 and be secured to member 50 on both sides of each hole 50. Consequently, it takes up the position shown in FIG. 5, i.e. each hole 54 is converted into a “cap” or depression 55 which accepts the capped bottle neck 57 and restrains any significant movement thereof such as sliding, of support member 50 when the latter is engaged by a bottle neck 57 extending into in each depression 55.

[0039] As a practical matter, a single strip of tape extends across and is secured to support member 50 serves to convert both holes 50 into depressions 54. Alternatively a shallow depression the dimensions of depression 55 can be formed in member 50 in the same manner as the carton hinge lines during formation of the blank from which the carton is made. This mode of construction is shown in FIG. 6 which is similar to FIG. 5 but specifically shows a promotional article of the invention for use in association with cans 45. Downwardly extending protuberances 51 are formed in support member 50 by normal techniques when member 50 is die cut from a thin board material. It may be noted that the diameter “d” of depression 51 is in noticeably less than that of the depression 53 in the lid—can 45. It is chosen to be a “loose” fit in the depression 53 so that the placing of support 50 over a group or block of cans need not be exact whilst still allowing the engagement of protuberance 51 inside depression 53 in the can 45 and hence ensuring the promotional article remains in its desired general location. The same loose fit characteristic applies in respect of the depressions receiving bottles.

[0040] Turning to FIGS. 7 and 8, this shows a support member 50 similar to that shown in FIG. 4 but which is larger and has four holes 56 formed as described above. However, in this case, the holes are not capped—they are true holes dimensioned to be able to locate over and slide down the bottlenecks 42 and be retained thereby—refer FIG. 11 or rest on the shoulders 64 of bottles 30. In addition, it is formed with a further hole or, alternatively, a depression, sized to accept and retain the promotional item. In this case that is a golf ball 58 which may simply be forced in a hole 59 and be frictionally retained therein or may be secured via tape 60—refer FIG. 8.

[0041] In FIGS. 9 and 10, yet a further embodiment of support member 50 is shown, this member having six holes or depressions 55. FIG. 10 shows the support member 50 in place lying over and being engaged and restrained by six of the twelve bottles 30 in the 3×4 configured twelve-bottle pack. The premium in this embodiment consists of two fridge magnets 62, clearly visible in FIG. 10 and also in FIG. 12. As will be appreciated, tape 56 is thin and takes up an insignificant amount of space between the top 38 of bottle cap 39 and the interior surface of top wall 5. Consequently, top wall 5 which is essentially planer will not be distorted or twisted in any manner.

[0042] In practicing the present invention, the support member 50 is fitted with the promotional item, i.e. premium, it is desired to place in the beer carton to form the promotional combination article. Obviously, each premium will need to be individually attached to the top or bottom side of its associated support member 50 and the method chosen is readily determined in a practical manner without undue effort. The article is then placed on top of the block or complement of bottles when same has been configured via the configuration process described above and before the block is acted upon by the pusher means to insert same into the end loading carton 1. This locating step may be effected by hand or mechanically. As reference to FIG. 10 shows, support member 50 need not cover all the bottles in the carton; it need only be sufficient to carry the desired premium. However, for ease of handling and stability and in particular, applying over the bottles, it is conveniently designed to extend over at least four bottles. The premium may be secured with tape, adhesive or simply be frictionally engaged as exemplified in FIGS. 7 and 8. With respect to this specification, in closing the panels to form the carton ends, preferably the lower end flaps 9 and 23 are folded inwardly first. This arrangement produces a tray-like configuration, formed by the lower end flaps 9 and 12 (not shown), the bottom panel 4 and the opposite side panels 2 and 3, which is considered to strengthen the finished package. Glue is applied on the outer side of the flaps 9 and 23 (not shown), and the side flaps 20 and 21 (and 19 and 22 not shown) are folded and pressed inwardly to bond their lower portions to the outer sides of the end flaps 9 (and 23). Preferably, the end and side flaps are each of the same length, approximately one-half of the width of the opening between the panels 2 and 3 to which the side flaps are attached. Thus, when folded inwardly, the side flaps substantially close the end openings of the carton. The small space 23 between the adjacent edges of the inwardly folded side flaps 20 and 21 is shown exaggerated in FIG. 2. Glue is applied on the upper portions of the side flaps 20 and 21 (and 19 and 22), and the upper end flaps 10 (and 11) are folded inward and bonded to the associated underlapping side flaps 20 and 21 (and 19 and 22).

[0043] As will be appreciated from FIG. 2, the side flaps 20 and 21 through the underlying flap 9, engage against the base portion of adjacent bottles 30 that offer resistance to inward movement of the flaps 9, 20 and 21. Thus, when pressure is applied to the upper end flap 10 to bond this to the side flaps 20 and 21 the latter, through their own stiffness, react with the flap 10 so that a good bond is achieved despite the fact that flaps 20 and 21 may not actually abut the enclosed bottle necks. Typically, the carton blank is made of corrugated cardboard, or like stiff packaging material.

[0044] The resulting filled and closed carton has at each end one end flap folded on the outer face of each side flap and one end flap folded underneath each side flap.

[0045] In this specific embodiment, the side and end flaps are generally rectangular with rounded corners. The lower end flaps 9 (and 12) may be generally trapezoidal with the side edges thereof tapering slightly inwardly away from the line of attachment of the flap to the base or lower panel 4 (shown in FIG. 1). The lower edges of each side flap may incline slightly inwardly away from its line of attachment to the side panels of the carton. The inclining edges of lower end flap and the side flaps then cooperate together in a camming action to assist in erecting the carton to its rectangular cross section tubular configuration from a flat-folded configuration.

[0046] Although in the above detailed description both ends of the carton are closed in the same manner, it will be appreciated that if allowed or required by the nature of the contents to be packaged therein, one end of the carton may be closed by the method described above in detail and the other end closed in another conventional manner.

[0047] It will be appreciated that, if the manufacturer of the carton blank is not the user thereof as is usually the case, the carton blank may be supplied to the user with the panels 2 and 5 connected together along their longitudinal edges, or disconnected, in which case a first step in the packaging method may be to bond the edge flap 6 to the panel 2.

[0048] Obviously, the above specific embodiments all relate to end-loading cartons involving bottles the emphasis being placed on that type since the problems associated with including premium in cartons are more associated with that type of carton. However, the present invention may also be used to advantage in association cans as well as with other carton types in particular, top loading cartons. Moreover, the present invention although of particular interest with respect to the beverage industry may be used in association with packages containing primary containers of other products. This carton is described in more detail in Canadian Patent No. 1,297,851, the contents of which are included herein by this reference. Although the promotional article, package and delivery system of the present invention has been described with reference to the provision of bottles and cans of beer to the public, it will be appreciated it may also be used in association with other beverages and, indeed, other retail articles sold to the public in multiple unit formats.