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3 Sign Companies Bring the Crowds with Event Signage

These projects identify, brand and direct in some very interesting settings.

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BACK BIG TIME from the brink after lockdowns and social distancing, events rely heavily on signage for location ID, wayfinding and brand reinforcement. Following, three sign companies share details, insights and trends for event signs.

Attention Getters Design produced and installed temporary graphics at a local bookstore hosting a 2022 San Diego Comic-Con event featuring Harley Quinn.

COMIC-CON JOB

When thousands of fervent fans descended on the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con festival last summer, HBO Max wanted to ensure that its hit animated series “Harley Quinn” would get maximum exposure as it debuted its third season. The pay-television network turned to New York ad agency MAP360 Collective to lead the project and reinforce the brand for the 150,000 Comic-Con attendees over the four-day convention.

That’s where Attention Getters Design (AGD; El Cajon, CA) begins its “origin story” with the project. The 30-year-old signshop was recommended by MAP360 Collective and one of its vendors to San Diego’s Now or Never Comics store, where the signage installation would take place. AGD went on to handle production, installation and removal for the entire project, which included wall and window graphics, as well as a banner.

With MAP360 Collective providing the graphics for AGD to print and fabricate, the shop visited Now or Never Comics, a location selected for its walking proximity to the convention center, to do an extensive site survey for accurate measurements. This, says Tracey Kennedy, AGD’s president, was one of the most important aspects of the job. If the measurements were not precise, the whole project could not be installed correctly.

Next, the project moved indoors to AGD’s facility where its Roland VersaCAMM VS-640i and VersaUV LEC2-640 roll-to-roll printers produced the project using ORAFOL’S ORAJET 3165RA vinyl with GF 231 laminate for the walls, Oracal clear vinyl with laminate for the window graphics, and Oracal 13-oz. vinyl fabric for the banner. 

One of the biggest challenges, recalls Kennedy, was to perfectly install all of the signage in just over a day. “At this point, we’re used to it,” she says. “We’ve done a lot of signage for Comic-Con over the years and it’s always on a fast deadline.” 

Once everything was printed, AGD took the graphics to Now or Never’s site in the East Village for installation. To reach some of the higher, more difficult spots, AGD needed to use ladders and a rented scissor lift to reach about 15 ft. to the higher levels of the two-story building.

All in all, the project took AGD nearly 60 hours to complete. The shop spent about 15 hours printing and prepping for the installation, 36 hours for installation itself (using four employees) and six hours to remove almost everything. The window installation was very challenging for her employees, Kennedy says, due to the difficulty to perfectly match the images in the window panes.

The project was very well received at Comic-Con, with more than 6,000 people visiting Now or Never’s store. Between the outdoor and indoor signage, AGD created its own billboard in the heart of San Diego’s popular Gaslamp Quarter with over 100,000 estimated impressions for the week. “Our signage stayed up for another three weeks for a total of more than 400,000 impressions for four weeks,” Kennedy says, adding, “While the comic bookstore removed the exterior wrap, they liked the large stairwell wall graphic so much that they kept it up permanently.”

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Starfish Signs and Graphics left virtually no surface unbranded for this RPAG event at The Ritz-Carlton.

PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ

Each year, a select group of members from the Retirement Plan Advisory Group (RPAG) hold their annual meeting at The Ritz-Carlton luxury oceanfront hotel in Laguna Niguel, CA, where they tout their premier technology, solutions and services for advisers, institutions and service providers. To put up signage for this exclusive event, Starfish Signs and Graphics (San Clemente, CA) was tasked with branding the hotel’s floors, walls, windows, glass tabletops and elevators with RPAG’s theme.

“We receive jobs through The Ritz-Carlton hotel because we are one of its preferred vendors,” explains Mike Reilly, founder and president of Starfish. “The hotel knows they can trust us with installing and removing signage without damaging its precious artwork and its high-end elevator, floor and glass materials. [Plus] we’ve been serving RPAG for a number of years.”

With the group’s event held each fall, Starfish begins work in early summer, brainstorming design ideas and new branding opportunities throughout the hotel with RPAG’s team. A few years ago, their theme was “Amplify.” Starfish used RPAG’s artwork to create a multitude of signage throughout the hotel. “It’s our job,” Reilly says, “to maximize the high-end signage to match the hotel’s vibe. We want attendees to feel like they’re walking through a museum; it has to be consistent with the mood. Very high-end, elegant messaging.”

To emulate the hotel’s sophisticated artwork, Starfish built 1 x 2-in. wood frames and applied Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) “art” produced on its HP Latex R1000 printer to the faces of the frames. Then the Starfish team protected the ACM panels using General Formulations’ GF 231 AutoMark Wrap Laminate.

For the hotel’s windows and mirrors, the Starfish team printed onto Photo Tex adhesive material using its HP Latex 570 roll printer. The material provides good adhesion to glass, is relatively easy to install while still being readily removable and does not need to be laminated, Reilly says. To catch attendees’ attention as they walked along a main traffic route within the hotel, Starfish installed a mosaic pattern on individual windowpanes and two-sided graphics to show both inside and outside the ballroom doors.

“We use quite a bit of frosted vinyl,” Reilly says, “as it provides a very nice etched-glass look on glass surfaces. We use both a 60-in. Graphtec plotter-die cutter and our HP Latex 570 roll printer to produce individual letters on a Mactac frosted vinyl to adhere to glass tabletops or ocean-facing windows, where we didn’t want to block the view. We even overheard one attendee wonder how RPAG got each of the tables branded individually, not realizing the letters were vinyl.”

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Image360 Tucker leveraged a previous donation to help win the job promoting the new, annual Tucker Restaurant Week, and other local events.

TUCKER RESTAURANT WEEK

With thousands of diners flocking to Tucker, GA for its restaurant week in February 2021, the suburban Atlanta city and its tourism bureau decided to make the event annual. To broadcast the 2022 occasion, the City of Tucker hired Image360 Tucker (Tucker, GA) to produce light-pole banners for the historic downtown area.

“We had formed a partnership with the city’s marketing manager a few years ago when I donated a sign for their new community garden,” says Earl Walker, Image360 Tucker’s president. “Since then, we’ve produced banner signage for all types of events, such as Fourth of July, a concert series and now Restaurant Week.”

To advertise the five-day event, Image360 Tucker received artwork files from the city and produced 21 double-sided banners for its light poles, each measuring 24 x 36 in. Turnaround time usually requires a week or more. These banners were imaged on Ultraflex 18-oz. square vinyl banner material using the company’s CET Color Q6/K2-500 Flatbed: 4 x 8-ft. printer using fast-drying, VOC-free UV inks, which are said to hold up exceptionally well outdoors.

Once the banners were printed, the city dropped by to pick them up for installation. Because the Tucker light posts are owned and regulated by the city, for insurance and contractual purposes city engineers must install the banners on pre-set banner brackets. It’s a busy main street, says Walker, and their engineers have better control over traffic and when to block off a street.

“Our banners have to be equally color consistent and eye-catching,” Walker says. “We’re proud of the banners we produce for Restaurant Week. Nearly 20 dining establishments attract thousands of diners during the five-day event to try new cuisine. Our banners help to bring people to explore and discover our warm and welcoming city. Plus, our banners were part of the reason that the event captured accolades and awards, including three national awards for the work of organizing, promoting and marketing the event.”

Event signage will continue to evolve, say these sign experts. “I think we’ll continue to see more events with signage using LED backlighting to add the ‘wow’ factor,” says AGD’s Kennedy. “We’re also using a lot clearer acrylic signs and lettering for hedge walls and backdrops for entrances and as a main focal point to an event.” 

Though there’s been a trend toward more event advertising going to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram rather than posters and signage, Walker of Image360 Tucker says their team continues to produce a lot of backdrops for virtual events, as well. Even as the pandemic subsides, they still get requests for backdrops with a company logo or event theme.

PHOTO GALLERY (33 IMAGES)
📷 Attention Getters Design | Starfish Signs and Graphics | Image360 Tucker

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