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Outdoor Advertising

It’s hip to be square with new vinyl apps

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Vinyl is hot, hot, hot in the great outdoors. Although it may be out-of-fashion in handbag, sofa or record manufacturing, it is en vogue in outdoor advertising and keeps stretching its creative bounds.

We all know how combining flexible vinyl surfaces and digital imaging revolutionized outdoor advertising. Bulletins — the first recipients of this multi-media technology — have been transformed from hand-painted 14 x 48-ft. structures into seamless graphics.

In the early 80s, national advertisers noticed these high-quality impressions, and the gates opened to a deluge of advertising categories — fashion, automotive, media, health care and business products, to name a few.

"I’m not sure we envisioned our market to be the big order, but once clients saw the impact and realized they didn’t have to compromise the quality of their creative, it really worked in our favor," says Ron Fagen, marketing director for Metromedia Technologies, Los Angeles, CA, one of dozens of digital-imaging companies servicing outdoor advertisers.

Since then, creative minds have stretched vinyl possibilities beyond the bulletin. Vinyl has given new life to extensions and snipes. Additionally, 30-sheet poster panels have been re-outfitted to stretch painted vinyl across the panel and over the frame. Local advertisers have requested hand-painted vinyl instead of plywood sections. Today, 70% of the outdoor industry can accommodate vinyl, where as only 5% could 10 years ago.

Now, vinyl has gone vertical and given birth to a new billboard format — the 25 x 26-ft., square billboard. These vertical billboards are not newly constructed structures; they’re simply double-decked, 30-sheet poster panels with vinyl stretched over both faces.

"When you look at the whole concept, technically, it’s very simple," explains Rich Schoenholtz, operations manager at Eller Media Co. in Milwaukee, WI, where the first vertical billboard ad was posted for Leinenkugel’s Red Lager. "In order to retrofit the unit, you need to remove the picture-frame molding from the panels, remove the platform on the top, fill the space in between the two structures with metal or plywood, adapt the back of the structure for vinyl installation, and add holophane illumination fixtures on the top and bottom," Schoenholtz says. Further, the two types of structures are interchangeable.

National advertisers such as Philip Morris, Lifetime Network, Paramount Network, Hanes, Nine West, Barney’s New York and Guess are enthused by the new vertical outdoor canvas where creative fits the dimension of existing print campaigns. Local advertisers are getting a piece of the action, too. "We’ve had a surge of interest from local businesses," says Joe Lafrentz, regional sales manager for Outdoor Systems, Atlanta, GA. Currently, the company advertises 96 Rock radio and Egelston Children’s Health Care System on its vertical boards. Eller Media has been mobbed by the local Milwaukee press — for advertising space, that is. Eller has already posted ads on its Premiere Plus

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