Tara Hornor September 26th, 2014

WTF? Quirky and Unusual Packaging and Advertorial Designs

For both packaging and advertisements, one of the most important elements is that the design stands out from its surroundings, whether this is on a shelf or in a magazine. The catch is that it shouldn't just stand out, however. A good marketing design is one that will also capture attention long enough to leave a lasting impression on the consumer. And also just as important is that the lasting impression is one that accurately portrays the brand along with the product's unique features and, more importantly, benefits.

The following 30 packaging and advertorial designs are ones that certainly stand out, but are they a little too quirky or unusual to leave the right impression? Sometimes a brand will go too far when trying to capture attention and end up sabotaging their brand identity. Take a look at the marketing materials below and take note of your own intial reaction. Did any of them take the quirkiness too far? Did any of them succeed in effectively marketing their brand?

Design to Annoy by Erik Askin

This concept design was based on the theory that bad design could change behavior, or at least make behaviors uncomfortable. For instance, the oddly shaped cigarette packaging above might reduce smoking and sharing of cigarettes since it doesn't fit in pockets well, it's difficult to flip open, difficult to share, and the brand is hidden when placed on shelf.

Nike Designs by Marcelo Shultz

Commissioned to create a skull using sneaker textures, Marcelo Schultz as Illustrator with Christopher DeGaetano as Art Director and Jeff Wertz as Studio Director created an incredibly edgy design. The Swoosh logo as eyes and laces as a mouth are a creepy touch.

Centrum: Dark by Brother Escuela de Creativos

This advertisement is one in a series for Centrum multivitamins. Depicting older generations dressed like young hipsters is quite the quirky way to make the point that Centrum helps you feel young.

Bennetto by One Design

The quirkiest part of this design is the tag on the side that reads, "Melt me in hot milk." Bennetto Natural Foods Company wanted a quirky yet luxurious design for their drinking chocolate. A luxury brand using cacao from a Fairtrade coop in Peru, Bennetto loved the illustration with tropical birds dressed in high end clothes and a whimsical background, a design that reminds one of a cross between beautiful children's illustrations and Vera Bradley purses and accessories.

Simpsons Beverage by Constantin Bolimond

These drinks are, obviously, based on the TV sitcom series, The Simpsons. The label explains that the drink may be wine or something different because you ever know with this unusual, always changing flavor. Ingredients for the 23 year recipe never change but portions of each ingredient does change, hence the different flavors.

Print for Ukraine International Airlines by Bozhko Aleksandr

Bold move by the illustrator as well as UIA, the tagline is Make the World Closer and the picture quite artistic in style. Depicting a statue of Christ holding a cigarette and in bed with the Statue of Liberty is sure to turn heads, and probably cause a lot of discussion.

Wishbone Coffee by Also Known As

The task for this design was to re-imagine traditional packaging for coffee. This package resembles a whiskey flask, which can definitely give what would otherwise be ordinary coffee seem much more fun and enticing.

Eat My Melissa by Julien Palast

Lookbooks often go over the top with their product images, and this one for the 2015 Melissa Lookbook is no different. The artist created this look using the SkinDeep technique.

Apothecary by The6th Creative Studio

These Apothecary soaps are 100% organic, so the designer created packaging to help them stand out. Shaped like a hard cover book with a string to lock it, the three different soaps come in three different, beautiful illustrations.

Retired Police Dog Fund by Cogent Elliott

This advertisement for the Staffordshire Retired Police Dog Fund certainly captures attention. I'm not sure about it tugging on the heart strings, but the organization must have decided that comedy was a better route for gathering more donations.

Pepperjack by The Collective

Pepperjack traditionally uses cream labels at an angle but never wrapped all the way around, which is what The Collective did to give these two new wines, made specifically for certain cuts of steak, a distinct look that still fit with the brand.

Coppafeel!: Spongy by Karmarama

This ad campaign is titled "Coppafeel!" to raise awareness about preventing breast cancer: "When it comes to your boobs, there are hundreds of words you can use to describe them. So get coppin' and tell us #whatnormalfeelslike for you." Both the bare breasts and the title are an excellent way to grab attention and created a memorable message.

Starobrno "Dragon" ATL Visual Campaign by Lukas Vodicka

Vodicka was responsible for improvements on the sketches in this ad, which originally is from WMC/ GREY Prague. This close up shows more of the incredible details found in this graphic, located in smaller size in the header of the Starobrno website.

Science World: Golf by Rethink Canada

With the figure of Death holding the flag and a tagline of "More people die playing golf than any other sport," this is one ad that is sure to turn heads. Is this an attempt to add humor or intrigue to a normally dry, slow-moving sport?

Family Biz by mousegraphics

This honey brand comes from a family bee farm in Greece, and the packaging was produced based on the owner's explanation of how the bees work. The numbers represent the different beehives on the farm, a detail the designer decided to include because the farmer explained how each beehive has a number and that he strategically places the queens in the best beehives, found by observation. It is hard to tell from the description, though, if the numbers on the honey jars mean that the honey came from those beehives.

The Bible of Barbecue by JWT Brazil

The Tramontina barbecue brand released a barbecue "Bible," an excellent gift idea since barbecue is an art to Brazilians. Different pages in the book actually turn into tools for barbecuing. For instance, there's a page made entirely of charcoal, a page made of salt, a placemat page, a foil page, a page that doubles as a sharpener, and more. Even the cover is made to be a chopping board. Now, what do I have to do to get one these?

ATSS: Keys are hard to find by McCann

This is one graphic in a series of ads for ATSS keyless entry systems, and all, like this one, will have you staring for quite a while in an attempt to find the keys. As someone who carries a very large purse, I can certainly relate to this ad very well, as I'm sure most purse-carriers can. Can you find the keys in this graphic?

MAX Shoes by Jung Von Matt/ Limmat

The tagline "You are what you wear" and the collection of graphics, all similar to the one above, were used to advertise MAX Shoes' Fall/Winter Collection. This one looked most like a puppet and eyes from a distance, but the rest are hilarious as well. Anyone else seeing a Pinterest puppet idea here?


A very clever packaging idea for the limited edition jeans for sale only on the webshop for Worker's Day 2013, this packaging was quite original. The jeans wrapped the box, and inside the box was the packaging slip and receipt. So, basically, you could say the packaging was shipped inside out, also a reminder of how jeans should be washed.

L'eaundry by KOREFE

This luxury laundry detergent by The Deli Garage needed a packaging design to stand out from the cheaper brands. The designer created these to resemble a chemist's bottles, and actually look good enough to put on display, not something you can say about most laundry soaps!

Sarson's Malt Vinegar by mcgarrybowen

This quirky cartoon ad is sure to make anyone at least smirk upon viewing. Plus, the "fish and chips" perfume spray idea is a perfect way to let customers know for what dish malt vinegar should be used.

MO'MEN by Mohamed kamel

MO'MEN uses only the freshest ingredients for its sandwiches, and needed a package that helped them stand out and get this message across. The designer created a unique illustration for each type of sandwich: beef, chicken, and seafood. The retro cartoon while whimsical also gives the impression that these sandwiches are not like the rest on the shelf.

Korcrossfit by Jabuticaba

This ad for Kor Crossfit is one of several in the series using the tagline, "What keeps you moving?" And this one certainly is unusual and definitely makes a statement! The rest of the ads are not quite as political but all are quite humorous and memorable.

Borsodi by DDB

"To hold anything else is just weird" - with a tagline like this, yeah, you simply have to go weird with the ad. And this one doesn't let us down. I've never heard of Borsodi beer, but I certainly won't forget it now.

Rose Mary Cherry by Marius Samoila

This ad is for Rose Mary Cherry by Saatchi&Saatchi Bucharest, commissioned by RedCarpetStudio. Dan Samoila and Marius Samoila did an excellent job with this ad and created a one-of-a-kind photo manipulation that turns heads but keeps attention captured with the exquisite details of the dress.

Student Work by Alyssa Phillips

The assignment for this student work was to package a product inside of a related object. Phillips used an old cassette tape as a package for ear buds, and, as she points out, simultaneously found a way to recycle an outdated music medium.

MM Identity Lab Calendar by MM Identity Lab

Another incredible gift idea with awesomely unusual packaging, this one is a spin on those boring marketing calendars you get every year. Based on the Chinese zodiac, this calendar doubles as a deck of cards with 12 of the cards in the deck representing the months of the year. The wooden holders were all hand stained and the boxes all hand stamped. The cards were 2 color offset print on ivory paper to make the graphics and fonts pop. Gorgeous!

Juicy Fruit by Estilo3D

This Juicy Fruit ad took me a minute to figure out. It is one of three in the ad series and all include the tagline, "A sweet burst of flavor." Need a clue? The key is in the word "burst" and the main characters are the bird and the balloon. The concept art was by Agustín Graham Nakamura; the final design was created in full 3D print.

Ultra Creative 2014 Gift by Ultra Creative

I would love to know what I need to do to get one of these unusual and quirky gifts from a creative agency. This one includes hints of the French Quarter and its mystery and includes a hot chocolate elixir, reflections of 12 scourges of 2013, and more. The result is that you can conjure up a message showing what 2014 holds for you personally.

Habemus Wine by La Croqueta Estudio

A holy wine? I think, yes! This Argentinian wine packaging was created in honor of the first Pope born in South America, Pope Francisco. Two types of wine, Malbec and Chardonay, are used to represent the transition from Cardinal (the Malbec, red) to Pope (the Chardonay, white).

Your Turn

Now that you've viewed the list of odd and out there marketing materials, share your opinion. Did any of them go too far over the top with the weird or unusual factor? Which ones nailed the standing out/ leaving a lasting impression/ portraying the brand combination vital to a successful product package or advertising campaign? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Tara Hornor

Tara Hornor loves writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and photography. She is a Senior Editor for Creative Content Experts, a copywriting company that she owns with her husband. Connect with @TaraHornor for more design inspiration and marketing help.


  1. New to appreciating graphic design around me, and this was a fantastic, funny, and inspiring collection. Thanks so much!

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