Take 5… Design’s top tinned sardine packaging

One category. Every two weeks. Five of the world’s most charismatic designs.

Welcome to The Drum’s inaugural Take 5… a bi-weekly look at some of the design industry’s best imagined packaging design where you, The Drum reader, are in control. Every other Friday from today (5 June) we’ll pick a theme and ask you to submit the design you feel deserves a top spot. You’ll have one week to get your entries in, the votes will be counted and the best of lot will be published the following Friday.

First up, a classic kitchen cupboard staple; the sardine tin. Much of the world eats this humble and somewhat unfashionable food. But despite its lowly standing, tinned sardine brands seem to attract a disproportionately high level of creativity to the design of their packs.

José Gourmet

Sardines are the national dish of Portugal, so it’s only fitting that José Gourmet, a Lisboan food retailer, should get the top spot with their imaginative sardine packaging. There are 15 different designs for the same product – each one looking like artwork that’s good enough to frame.

Ayam Brand

Ayam’ means ‘chicken’ in Bahasa Melayu, the native tongue of this brand’s home turf – Malaysia. Its canny (excuse the pun) owners realised that the brand’s illiterate consumers referred to it as ‘chicken brand’ so they put a chicken on the pack. With a bold red / yellow colour split and a menagerie of fish and fowl, this brand has visual equity that most brands would kill for.


This wonderfully retro tin is from France, bien sur - the Breton fishing town of Carcarneau to be precise. Its flat, fresh colours and sharp graphic edges evoke the bright sunlight of a Mediterranean morning. Which has far more taste appeal than the best photography of dead fish that money can buy.

Lucky Star

With its bold, simple and colourful iconography, Lucky Star is a home-grown South African icon. Its bright, cheerful labels have long adorned townships walls and household items like these. Which just goes to show that simple is sometimes strongest.


Trust Ikea to deliver a design with ruthless and witty economy. The clever appropriation of the generic ring pull device to form the sardine’s head is typical of their playful and understated design aesthetic. And perhaps it’s also testament to how universally recognisable the sardine can is, that selling packs of ‘Skarpsill’ causes no comprehension issues anywhere in the world.