Paperboard, for when you can't be there in person

Francisco Castro

Francisco Castro

May 27, 2020 () –

Thousands of “people” were in the stands May 16 when the Bundesliga – Germany’s soccer league—resumed play after several weeks of stoppage due to coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings. The fans looked like they were observing the plays down on the field, but there were no cheers, screams of delight and sadness, or even boos. The “people” in the seats were paperboard cutouts bearing the faces of real fans who had paid €19 for the privilege while they watched the games from their homes.

Similar fans were in attendance when the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) League season kicked off in May after a five-week delay due to the coronavirus. And the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns, the English Premier League and other sports leagues are considering this as an option if no real fans are allowed in stadiums and arenas as they resume play or get ready for the upcoming season.

Paperboard isn’t just for e-commerce. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, paperboard effigies have increased in presence, a stand-in for when people can’t actually show up in person. Michigan couple Amy Simonson and her fiancé Dan Stuglik said “I do” before an audience of paperboard to save their wedding day. After revising the invitation list four times and limiting the ceremony to their pastor, two groomsmen and two bridesmaids, Stuglik did not let the pandemic spoil their special day and filled the church pews with 100 distinctive cutouts (tall ones, short ones, young and old ones, with long and short hair) thanks to the Menasha Packaging Co.

Faced with limits on the number of customers it can have inside its establishment, a Sydney, Australia, restaurant is also using paperboard patrons to fill empty seats and make real customers more comfortable as it reopens its doors. The restaurant will also play background noise, including chatter and sounds of clinking cutlery to give the place a more real ambience.

While paperboard may be a lifesaver for people stuck at home anxiously expecting deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also helping in other facets of people’s lives, bringing a little bit of normalcy to an uncertain moment.

Francisco Castro is the editor for Paper, Hygiene Products & Publishing content at Industry Intelligence, which can help YOU better address your own industry challenges. To arm yourself with the latest market intelligence, contact or call 310-553-0008 if you’re interested in receiving the IMPACT report

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