By Sealed Air Staff Writer
Just over 60 years ago, two inventors failed spectacularly. They created something new, something the world had never seen, something no one had ever tried to make, but no one wanted it.
No one was interested in the groovy, puffy, three-dimensional wallpaper that Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes had dreamed up and ingeniously manufactured, but true innovation isn’t about success. It’s about failure. In fact, repeat failure.
The ability to get it wrong or almost right a hundred times before you happen upon an idea, an application, a design, or a formula that suddenly changes everything — that’s the difference between a truly revolutionary business, or a reactionary one.
Sealed Air was forged in the spirit of that first wallpaper failure and the resilience and creativity that followed it. The company has gone on to become an industry-leading force of innovation, putting decades of talent and passion into the art of packaging.
This year, Sealed Air proudly celebrates the 60th birthday of the idea that started it all. Tiny pockets of air, sealed between layers of thin, durable plastic. Best-selling home decor item it was not — instead, Bubble Wrap® became the key that opened the door to a new era of commerce. An era in which parts and presents and other provisions could travel great distances, over the road, by air, by sea — eliminating the boundaries of what could be bought or sold without worrying about how it would get there.
Mr. Fielding and Mr. Chavannes couldn’t have known then that 60 years later, we’d be on the brink of flying drones dropping packages at doorsteps, or that as they sat in traffic, people would be using palm-sized devices to place orders for 60-inch flat screen TVs.
For that matter, the two inventors could never have imagined that the tiny plastic bubbles they originally created would be re-engineered to provide enough strength and cushioning to eliminate damage on even the most heavy and intricately shaped items. And no way could they have known that their bulky Bubble Wrap-making contraption would become a sleek machine that inflates material on demand, allowing Bubble Wrap® to easily be used across the globe. The modern era of e-commerce is presenting challenges that manufactures, retailers, economists, and lawmakers have never had to face, and consumer desires are changing and adapting faster than the industry business models that serve them.
Innovation is the only way forward. Courageous, relentless innovation. Which brings with it a thousand tiny failures that we must learn from and be fueled by.
Six decades after the invention of Bubble Wrap®, Sealed Air is still inspired by that first great idea, and the failure that propelled it forward. The company has gone on to create thousands of ways that air can be air sealed between pieces of thin, strong plastic, and it’s far from finished.
Join us this year as Sealed Air celebrates 60 years of the clever, crazy, creative product that started it all, and the spirit of ingenuity it represents in the packaging business and in our culture to this day.
Cast your vote
Voting begins on Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day, January 29 and runs through February 5. The winning design will be announced on the Bubble Wrap® Twitter and Instagram accounts at @BubbleWrapSEE and on the Official Bubble Wrap® Brand Facebook page