Carton with a bag-in-box, supplied by Graphic Packaging International, is pretty conventional. But applied to the carton’s inside back panel in the manner of a pressure-sensitive label (see photo) is an NFC tag that causes the carton to function as an amiibo card. In other words, those playing the Super Mario Odyssey game can tap the specified area of the cereal carton to receive, says Nintendo of America, “gold coins or a life-up heart in the game.”

These limited-edition cartons began hitting store shelves around December 11. By December 22 it was almost impossible to find a carton in a retail outlet, though they started to show up on eBay for as much as $22 each. Wow.

NFC functionality is not new to packaging, but typically it has been applied to products like spirits or wines with price points far higher than an 8.4-oz carton of cereal that goes for about $3.00. That’s what makes this Kellogg’s application notable. Did Nintendo chip in somehow? The only comment that Redmond, WA-based Nintendo is sharing comes from Tom Prata, Nintendo America’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, in the firm’s December 1 press release: “This powered-up partnership with Kellogg’s is another exciting way for us to expand the Nintendo brand in unique and creative ways.” Another possibility is that Kellogg’s financed the NFC functionality by redirecting money from other advertising channels such as FSIs (Free Standing Inserts) in local or national newspapers. But Kellogg’s isn’t saying. We shall see how this plays out in other industries.

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