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Nutella Used An Algorithm To Design 7 Million Unique Labels ( 95

An anonymous reader quotes Inc. Millions of Italians can now say they own a one-of-a-kind Nutella jar. In February, 7 million jars appeared on shelves in Italy, all of them boasting a unique label design... "An algorithm has usurped the traditional role of a designer," writes design magazine Dezeen. There are jars with polka dots. Jars with zigzags. Jars with splotchy shapes. All sorts of other patterns, too... All 7 million jars sold out within a month... Due to the sell-out success of these jars, Nutella is reportedly launching the same campaign soon in other European countries, starting with France.
The article includes a video showing some of the labels. The algorithm always kept the original logo, but then "pulled from dozens of patterns and thousands of color combination."
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Nutella Used An Algorithm To Design 7 Million Unique Labels

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2017 @09:33AM (#54595753)

    imagine the hours that designers could have put in had all 7 million of these labels been done by PEOPLE instead of a fucking computer.

    • "It pulled from dozens of patterns and thousands of color combinations."

      So, human designer(s) made those dozens of patterns and a computer simply picked colours at random.

      I'm sorry but even the random dungeons of Diablo 1 (1996) are a more impressive feat than this marketing stunt.

      • Yes, but we're reading about and discussing this marketing stunt on Slashdot, so it was a pretty good marketing stunt because its free advertising. Their strategy makes people think they were getting something unique, a literal one in a (seven) million. As a tactic I think it plays in well to the desire of so many to feel special and probably allows for all manner of viral marketing when those plonkers post images of their one-of-a-kind Nutella jar to Instagram, Facebook, or whatever people are using these
      • I'm sorry but even the random dungeons of Diablo 1 (1996) are a more impressive feat than this marketing stunt.

        If all you focus on is looks, then you miss the big picture. They just registered 7 million more trademark looks. They are the only company that will get to do this from now on. they can sue everyone else for copying them now. Brilliant marketing strategy.

  • Algorithm? (Score:5, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Sunday June 11, 2017 @09:36AM (#54595759) Homepage Journal
    Surely they mean "AI"??? Any algorithm is AI in 2017.
  • Any two-bit programmer can write a program to make 1677216 unique pixels. Colour me unimpressed.

  • So glad... (Score:4, Funny)

    by RotateLeftByte ( 797477 ) on Sunday June 11, 2017 @09:52AM (#54595821)

    That I find the stuff as tasty as a dog turd.

  • So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orlanz ( 882574 ) on Sunday June 11, 2017 @09:57AM (#54595837)

    They had a computer randomly segment a piece of paper, plug in a random sampling of patterns, and then wrap the paper around a jar. Not exactly "replacing a designer team" (then again it is Italy).

    I think more credit is due to the Marketing team that realized this could sell jars. Job well done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      If anything, this just shows how flexible their printers can be on a commercial scale.

      • Time magazine used to print my name and address in the advertisement, print how my rep voted for a particular bill

        It was black and white, dot matrix printer with some misalignment. But that was 15 years ago. Should be surprised only if commercial scale printers can't take a new image for every label.

  • What if the algorithm makes a copywritten artwork? Who do you sue?
  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Sunday June 11, 2017 @09:59AM (#54595857)

    Dozens of patterns, thousands of color combinations

    So they just randomized the colors on preexisting patterns? Not particularly impressive.

    • I wasn't particularly impressed either, even without "doing the numbers" :

      7 million combinations ; "dozens of patterns", thousands of colour combinations.
      Let's guess at 2.5 dozen = 30 patterns. A nice round number. And the same palettes for "first" and "second" colours. I make that around 484 colours in the palette. If there are three variable colours, the palette goes down to a mere 62 colours.

      It's amusing, but not particularly impressive. You know, if I have a mere 10 variable elements in a design (say

  • ... the ingredients list on all of them starts with sugar and vegetable oil.

  • I notice that the algorithm appears to have completely covered over the brown colour of Nutella, so I 'interviewed' the algorithm: "Algorithm, why did you change the labels?"

    Algorithm: "Me smarter than people. Me know people don't like colour of shit. Me take shit colour off all labels."

  • ...they all have Nutella in them.

    • The problem is twofold:

      1) The jars sold out in a month. That means that this information is at least a month old. Why would Nutella wait so long to publicize what they were doing?
      2) They say that the 7 million jars sold out in a month. What is their usual rate of sale? If it's 10 Million in a month, then this is a flop.
  • Alternate headline (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) on Sunday June 11, 2017 @10:32AM (#54595987)
    "Italian firm runs software that produces permutations of the original input." News at 11.
    • It's not amazing that Italians could do that. it's amazing that they could do that when they weren't trying to do something completely different.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    less sugar, and more nuts and chocolate in Nutella.

    • I don't have a breakdown of ingredients to hand, but Cote d'Or used to do a black chocolate spread that was bordering on bitter.

      Might be hard finding outside the Francosphere though.

  • t's pretty funny, depressing, expected ...what word to use? that many of the comments to date are "unimpressed". Hint: The article is lying when it says an algorithm replaced a designer.

    This is obviously a piece of digital media art created by a media artist who has both artistic sense and a level of programming expertise, or possibly as a collaboration between an artist and a programmer. Every single variation I saw in the video looked fun and enjoyable, which is not what you would expect to achieve unless you have both sense and ability in both technical and artistic areas.

    It is perhaps a different discussion if you want to ask is this art or commercial design, or can they be the same thing.

    As another poster mentioned, procedural graphics can be cool. But also how to produce a certain feeling from it? What was the entire creative process? Did the creator(s) have to explore a huge space of outputted images, like in a fractal explorer? Did weeding out of unsuitable images happen? Was there a lot of experimentation with the design rules and types of patterns? Did it all start with someone drawing the kind of images he or she desired and then try to imagine how to achieve different kinds of variations (one image shows a portion of a swatch being composited on top of the same pattern in a different color, another image shows curving borders that clearly separate three different patterns, another image is very different showing a vertical uneven pattern of stripes that looks more hand drawn.. but also likely has many variations). Were off-the-shelf design programs used for the initial input or pattern generation, or was it all custom? How was the color palette decided? What language was it written in and how many lines of code? What percentage of the project was programming, or was it a constant programming and drawing and tweaking kind of intense operation? And did people at Nutella go over all 7 million images to make sure it didn't generate something scary like a skull or words? ;)

    Collaborations between artists and programmers can be awesome and challenging. I've been in some where technical issues had to be resolved very quickly due to a fixed exhibition schedule. I remember an event 10 years ago. A famous media artist (Jeffrey Shaw) was giving a thank you speech when his work had won the top prize in a prestigious art museum's competition, which also meant it would go on permanent display. It was actually the work of a small team. He chose to emphasize before anything else that the programmer (Bernd Lintermann) he worked with in fact also had provided a great deal of creativity and was an artist in his own right. The work was for a CAVE environment (3 walls and floor were projectors) but the same can be true in many genres.

    FWIW that was 1997, though it was still exhibited years later. []

    Though I have not been following him, FYI that programmer's page is here: []
    ZKM is a famous digital art museum in Karlsruhe, Germany.
    He exhibited at the Nikola Tesla museum a couple of years ago.
    I mention these things just because if there are any people here with whom this resonates, you might enjoy exploring possibilities.

    I'd also be interested to hear more about the story and was it something developed in-house by Ogilvy creatives or someone from outside, in a small digital media studio. Perhaps one day that story about the people who actually created the digital art system will come to light.

  • I'm rushing out to buy hazelnut flavoured sugar (really, check the ingredients) !

  • for (int i = 0; i < 7000001; i++)
    printf("Nutella %i\n", i);

    mine's better. 7 million and ONE unique labels
  • In a similar publicity stunt in Israel, a local chocolate company did this for chocolate bar wrappings, with much more elegant designs (done in collaboration with HP). You can see some of the designs in this image search: []

  • Sweet! :-)

  • Gravatar early on seemed to generate plenty of swastikas. I hope at least one ends up rotated 45 degrees over, say, a white circle with a red background.
  • Some people will fall for anything.
  • Some of us make actual algorithmic art. Publicity stunts like this just make everything "algorithmic" look bad. See my homepage for the obligatory shameless plug.
  • From the video in the article (from their production facilities) it appears they are not really that unique. I saw a few duplicates:!/57e0e9... []

  • This was all a set up to find more NSA leakers though print media like the little yellow dots.

    Apparently they think all leakers are a little bit nutty.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard