A good example of that comes, again, from the advertising bonanza that was the Olympics. Outdoor space managers CBS Outdoor worked with client Coca-Cola to turn Marble Arch Underground station into a ultra-branded platform for the soft drink company, using large-scale vinyl graphics. These so-called ‘station dominations’ or ‘immersion zones’ are increasingly popular, offering as they do for advertisers a concentrated burst of a valuable audience. In this case it was Olympic visitors heading to Hyde Park.
Simon Harrington is CBS Outdoor UK’s marketing and business development director. Despite his company’s growing portfolio of digital screens, he’s clear that its relationship with print is key to its overall portfolio. And firms that can provide high-definition ‘skins’ are key to their future work in large-format, as the big scale projects are increasing.
“Anything we consider a ‘special’, such as a wrapped bus or a wrapped station or the high-end packs that we call ‘creative solutions’, is done through us with certain printers,” he says. “And we’re constantly pushing to make sure that the quality of the image is as good as possible.”
Helping create that quality are the manufacturers. Francois Martin is marketing director for worldwide graphics at HP GSB. He points out that, as a company, HP is aware that its large-format printers are serving more functions and helping advertisers and print service providers to create more impact.
“Over the past few years,” he says, “we have been moving, technology-wise, into creating new product platforms that are helping our customers to not only create traditional applications, such as outdoor advertising, but also move into new areas like vehicle graphics, wall coverings and laminated furniture. We’ve been expanding the world of possibilities. Over the past two or three years, we’ve seen new ways for brand owners to communicate in unexpected placements and the print service providers enjoy these new printing capabilities and they’re printing more.”
A good example of a print firm that was early to branch out with innovative wide-format work, is Pyramid Visuals in Weybridge. Founder Justin Murray ensured the business invested early in large-format, becoming one of the first companies to use a Scitex machine (before the Israeli firm was sold to HP) and made a name for itself doing attention-grabbing projects such as wrapping Birmingham’s Millennium Building and creating the world’s largest anamorphic image in a print made for Greenpeace.
Murray has since left Pyramid and founded Project Print Management, which oversees wide-format projects and logistics for clients including BMW and Tate, where he has just worked on the installation of a giant building wrap to cover Tate Britain’s £45m renovation.