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Not Vanilla


Design: Rethink
Project Type: Produced, Commercial Work
Client: Ottawa Tourism
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Packaging Contents: Ice Cream

This beautifully designed ice cream packaging is actually not for ice cream at all.

The 360 design helped to change the minds of Canadians who mistakenly viewed Ottawa as a vanilla place to visit.

In order to break through the noise of traditional tourism advertising, Ottawa needed to do something different. So, they took their greatest weakness - a misperception of being vanilla - and turned it around. Launching Not Vanilla, in all appearances an authentic new ice cream brand, complete with logo, package design, shop design, and instagram.

The design focused on the idea of discovery that is inherent to travel. The packaging paralleled the experience of visiting Ottawa, with a stripped down exterior to reflect the perception of Ottawa as bland and straight, contrasted by the vibrant and modern interior to reflect the many unconventional and exciting experiences Ottawa actually has to offer. The tactile experience of opening the box mirrored the pleasant surprise of visiting Ottawa and discovering these experiences first hand.

​“Not Vanilla is an audacious testament to Ottawa’s liveliness and a brilliant way to show off what our city is about to our Toronto neighbours. We want them to get inspired to come our way to discover all of the exciting experiences their capital city has to offer. The packaging was designed to do just that.” says Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism.

​The narrative of discovery and delight was of course further supported by the ice cream flavours themselves, provided by MooShu in Ottawa.

​The ice cream was given out at a pop-up on a scorching summer day in downtown Toronto. The event brought out lots of local foodies and ice cream lovers.







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