Starburst's nostalgic Opal Fruit rebrand is designed literally by memory

A lost archive required nostalgia to the nth degree.

Opal Fruits were first launched in the UK in 1960, but were aligned by Mars with the global brand name, Starburst, towards the end of the 20th century. You can blame globalisation for that, just like you could attribute their nostalgic rebranding to the 21st century backlash against globalisation.

February will see a resurrected Opal Fruits return to the shelves for the first time in over 20 years, all thanks to a nostalgic 'rewind rebrand' by London design agency Straight Forward Design.

You'd think a redesign based on past packaging would be easy when dealing with a big brand like Mars, all manner of records and archives at your disposal – except it wasn't, as Mike Foster, creative director and founder of Straight Forward Design, reveals.

"In this digital age, there were no packaging artworks for Opal Fruits, so we started working from old TV commercials and print ads. We quickly realised, though, that the most important archive existed in people’s memories. So to ensure that we made a meaningful connection, we asked people what Opal Fruits meant to them."

Opal Fruits went through several iterations in its 38-year history, however, even during the years when it transitioned to Starburst. As such, different people remember different things.

"Nostalgia is interesting, because perceived and actual memories are two different things, and people are drawn to one particular iteration. The task for the designer is to marry all these factors and come up with a brand and packaging identity that works for today and is universally reminiscent of the past," says Mike.

To honour the production values of the original brand and ensure an authentic result, Straight Forward Design collaborated with experienced typographer David Bateman and illustrator Simon Critchley, who have both worked with the world’s top FMCG brands for over 35 years.

"To get the design absolutely right, we needed to immerse in the archive to find the right solution to transport people back to their youth. It also creates an opportunity for Mars to reach new consumers as parents introduce their kids to the sweets they loved in their youth."

"Mars doesn’t own Opal Fruits,” as Mike concludes. “The people who love them do."

Those people can enjoy the return of Opal Fruits for a limited period from this February 2020.

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