50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists breakdance box

50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists breakdance box

VH1 Productions, New York, New York, 2003


This was a very involved project with many challenges. First and foremost, this package was a grand prize given to radio contest winners. We promoted our countdown show, 50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists, in seven different cities. The second challenge, which was more tactical, was to create packaging to house the 10 CDs. Our audience target was age 18 to 34, which fit perfectly with the array of CD titles spanning classic hip hop to current day.

We knew we wanted to use authentic hip-hop terms and go beyond the expected execution. The project was assigned to a designer who had in-depth knowledge of hip hop and who could bring in the kind of outside help we needed. First on our agenda was to research a writer who was very much involved in hip hop and breakdancing and could handle the project correctly and respectfully. The writer we used was Fever 1 from the Rock Steady Crew. Once we had the writer and designer in place we collaborated on ideas and the box started to take shape. The creative team consisted of four people: design director, designer, writer and production manager.

We all remembered both the cardboard box that was placed on the pavement and the boom box used for breaking. We wanted to use these icons as a way to package the CDs. At first the designer had a smaller box in mind (a tabletop design). However, when this was first presented, the idea of doing a full-size box came up and it was this change that really brought the design to another level. This made for a larger design canvas, which allowed us to include directions and illustrations on how to break while at the same time not changing the budget too much. We were also able to include a set of stickers, which would not have fit if the box were smaller. The idea that the boom box folded out to a box that breakers used became a very strong and original idea, and the execution mirrored this. The larger box also enabled us to showcase writing as a key part of the overall execution, which made for a stronger statement and a bit of humor. Also, by using only one color and the cardboard material, we were able to create something authentic looking and relatively inexpensive.

Overall, the packaging was very well received. It garnered huge support in-house from the client and upper management, as well as the radio stations and contest winners. Many of the radio stations sent us letters, stating how much the winners loved the promotion. A radio station in Philadelphia contacted our creative department directly to express what a great promotion and grand prize we created. This confirmed that a solid concept needs little explaining, as everyone loved the idea right away.

The final cost for the packaging was $5,500. This total cost included design time, research, copy and production. We did a total of 36 boxes. Although environmental responsibility wasn’t an issue, it so happened that the cardboard was recycled.

Juror Notes

The package is part of the whole brand experience. Simple and clever, very effective communication and great delivery vehicle. Has a long life—as container initially, as activity later.

Collections: AIGA 365: 25 (2004)
Discipline: Package design
Format: Package


Design firm
VH1 Productions
Creative director
Phil Delbourgo
Art director
Nancy Mazzei
Julie Ruiz
Julie Ruiz
Picture editor
O’Neil Edwards
Fever 1
Christine Hollwedel
Project manager
Christine Hollwedel
Print Promotions Incorporated
Printing method
Silk screen
B Flute Kraft, Corrugated
Print Promotions Incorporated
Print Promotions Incorporated
AG Book Stencil
VH1 Productions