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Mexican commercial printer moves into smart packaging

Mexican commercial printer and communication company Ideeo is turning its sights on packaging, and plans to open a business line that incorporates digital experiences such as augmented and virtual realities into the printed product. 

Mexico City-based Ideeo has built a solid communication and printing business that has focused on commercial printing such as account statements, publications and documents. But in recent years – and like many commercial printers – the company has started to diversify into offering end-to-end products and services all under one roof.  That was just the beginning.

Ideeo 4.0
Ideeo has developed a successful augmented reality application for electricity bills in Mexico. Customers’ power bills come alive when they scan with their mobile phones a QR code that’s inserted in the receipt. By scanning with the IdeeAR+ app, created in-house at Ideeo, the app triggers a character who appears on screen and explains the charges. 

In what it’s calling ‘Ideeo 4.0’, the company will take that foundation to shift its focus from commercial printing to short-run promotional folding carton packaging. ‘This reinforces our conviction for creativity, innovation and high technology,’ says Ideeo managing director Lucrecia Fabián.

During Labels & Labeling’s visit, Fabián showcased a small box, printed with a handsome man smiling on the front. Once held under a smart phone and scanned with the IdeeAR+ app, the man begins speaking and explains why the end user should vote for him. And just like that, the box was transformed to a digital promotion.

Ideeo gave life to the box, but it didn’t happen with magic. Ideeo employs a multi-disciplinary team of 18 who work to develop its apps and platforms. Or, as Fabián describes it, ‘taking the physical world and combining it with the digital one.’ ‘We’re taking printed communication to a new level,’ she says.

The candidate carton was one of the many prototypes Ideeo has developed to show customers its augmented reality prowess. Connected packaging is just one part of the forward-thinking principles upon which the company prides itself. ‘We’re constantly innovating,’ Fabián says. ‘Innovation is not just an action, it’s a habit.’

Ideeo has long found ways to differentiate itself in the market. It has built a business model that’s part advertising agency, part print house, part digital developer.

For its transition to packaging, the company has invested heavily in new machinery – including equipment from HP Indigo, Canon, Heidelberg and – its latest – KBA. In all, Ideeo houses 150 machines, a health clinic, gym and salon for employees in its massive 21,000sqm facility.

The company also offers photography and videography services and marketing support that is all part of its comprehensive offering.

‘Compared to other printing companies, we’re only growing,’ CEO Juan Estrada says. ‘Package printing was an obvious move for us because there are not as many people doing it here in Mexico. There are less competitors and, hence, massive opportunities.’ 

‘This is the future,’ he continues, holding up the printed promotional box described above.

For customers also seeking labels, Ideeo has partnered with Mexico City-based Etiquetas Lobo Impresores. (That company’s operations director Keren Becerra, who also manages Label Pack Magazine and is on the board of Mexican association AMETIQ, is a correspondent with Labels & Labeling).

Estrada didn’t rule out producing labels in the future. ‘Eventually we’ll get into labels, when our customers request it,’ he says. ‘Labels are complementary. One thing will get to another.’

In speaking of the risks of reinventing the company, Estrada wasn’t worried. ‘I’m convinced that companies that don’t reinvent themselves they are going to fail in this market.’


Chelsea McDougall is North America editor for Labels & Labeling.

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