Interviews | July 15, 2021
Vpak Uses Creativity to Combine Video and Print
Rob Likoff just had to laugh.
Years ago, when his company Vpak was in its early days, Likoff was discussing the importance of videos with a colleague in production. He pointed out that when consumers buy new gadgets, equipment and appliances, they don’t necessarily want to flip through a thick manual to figure out how their new product works. Instead, Likoff said, they want to see it in a video — a quick, easily-digestible video showing how to operate the product. It was then that Likoff made his prediction: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a screen in a toaster,” he told his colleague.
Flash forward to the spring of 2021, and Likoff was shopping in Williams Sonoma when he spotted a toaster with — you guessed it — a screen for videos.
“I said, ‘I knew it! I knew it was coming,’” Likoff says with a chuckle.
Likoff has always understood the importance of this medium. But in today’s world, it can be difficult to ensure your video content is reaching the right people. There is an astonishing amount of it online. In fact, 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, according to Brandwatch.
So how can you cut through the noise to make sure the right people are watching what you’ve created? Vpak has a few ideas. Likoff, who started the company with his business partner Richard Weber, sums up their purpose succinctly: “The concept is that we’re embedding video screens into other media.” And the perfect companion for these videos is print.
“If I send you a link and you don’t know me, are you going to click on it and download it? Not in this environment, with viruses and everything else,” Likoff says. “But Vpak can put this directly in your hands.”
When you receive what you think is a piece of ordinary mail, only to discover there is a video built in, you aren’t going to throw that mail away in a hurry. That’s the core of Vpak’s business model: creating exciting products that catch consumers’ eyes and stick in their memory.
Innovation and Memorable Projects
Vpak can put screens in just about anything, and has a variety of sizes to meet its customers’ needs. For example, the company has a 3-inch screen for business cards, and a 10-inch screen that’s currently used for a luxury Long Island-based real estate agency. As long as the customer is willing to get creative, Vpak can make its vision into a reality.
When that vision becomes reality, it’s in clear, sharp, high definition. That’s because Vpak is constantly looking for the newest technology to bring its screens to the next level. Likoff praises Weber for making a point to drive innovation at the company and says Vpak’s constant search for the newest hardware, software and features sets it apart from its peers. Likoff’s philosophy is simple: consumers are accustomed to best-in-industry screens thanks to smart TVs and smartphones, so Vpak should seek out best-in-industry screens coupled with an intuitive user experience to meet or exceed expectations.
Though many of Vpak’s projects involve print — screens embedded into brochures, booklets, direct mail pieces and more — some are a little different. About 10 years ago, Likoff pitched Vpak to an ad agency. The ad agency said they wanted something out of the ordinary, guaranteed to catch people’s attention. Could Vpak put a screen into a cocktail shaker?
“My production guys don’t always like it when I say this, but I always say we can do anything,” Likoff says. He assured the ad agency that Vpak could make it happen — and then Vpak followed through.
Another memorable project involved Michael Jordan. (Yes, that Michael Jordan.) Around the 25th anniversary of the basketball superstar’s shoe line, Vpak created a special shoebox. The suede box is adorned with the famous Jumpman logo with a screen embedded into the side. That screen shows famous Jordan highlights on a loop, giving enthusiasts a chance to relive iconic moments whenever they pull out the shoebox.
The shoebox and cocktail shaker are prime examples of Likoff’s take on screens and video. “In some ways, the industry is sort of stuck in the idea that these are throwaway pieces, the quality doesn’t have to be that good, people are going to look at it once and throw it away,” he says. “That’s exactly the opposite of what we think is true.”
When Vpak first started, Likoff anticipated the company’s clients would be concentrated in pharmaceuticals and luxury goods. But Vpak has proven to be extremely popular across the spectrum, attracting interest from small companies, multinational companies, nonprofits, political campaigns and more. Likoff says the company can produce as few or as many pieces as needed, and emphasizes that the cost is not prohibitive for smaller companies and organizations.
Finding a Community in PSDA
In the second half of 2020, PSDA member Wayne Miller, impressed with Vpak, asked Likoff if he had heard of PSDA. Likoff hadn’t, so Miller connected him with Matt Bruno, PSDA executive vice president. After just one conversation, Likoff knew he wanted to become a member of the association.
“I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t already know about it even sooner in my career,” Likoff admits.
He joined at the end of 2020 and immediately sought out ways to get involved. Likoff now sits on committees for membership and CEO Summit, and believes he can contribute a valuable, unique perspective. Likoff praises the people he has met through the association and the connections he has forged, and is eagerly anticipating opportunities to meet his PSDA peers in person. Likoff plans to attend PSDA events and looks forward to shaking hands and interacting with others again soon.
So far, Likoff feels he has benefited personally from his PSDA membership, and he hopes to forge professional partnerships as well. After all, he believes print is the ideal partner for Vpak’s screens.
"Mail and print is still growing, and it's still the primary way people communicate," Likoff says. "Putting [print and screens] together seemed like a good idea. To do that via a trade association that's all about the manufacturers, suppliers and distributors — that is just a no brainer."
Likoff and 2,990 other members take advantage of all PSDA has to offer. Interested in joining them? Find out more about membership.
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