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Tradition Meets Innovation

Specialty Fleet Graphics

By Melissa Tetreault

Specialty graphic films cover a range of applications—window signage, point of purchase (POP) displays, and vehicle wraps, to name a few. When used, their impact to both the consumer and client is significant.

Vinyl films are easier to use than ever. Repositionable, bubble-free adhesive materials allow both the novice and experienced user to consistently deliver high-quality, digitally printed graphics.

Vernon Display Graphics, based in Carlstadt, NJ, is an experienced establishment. A subsidiary of the Vernon Company, the shop celebrates over 53 years of business. "The continued improvement in digital printing technologies allows us to greatly improve our speed, efficiency, and ability to reduce costs," shares Michael Costello, sales representative, Vernon Display Graphics.

The 40,000 square foot production facility is home to 40 employees, specializing in signage and display materials for retail, POP, as well as fleet graphics. The shop also provides complete project management for custom packaging, kitting, and inventory management.

Rolling Billboards
Fleet graphics make up 20 percent of Vernon Display Graphics’ business. The shop experienced fleet graphics’ evolution from screenprinting to digital printing technology first hand. Costello explains, "Vernon Display Graphics added digital printing capabilities to address this change, largely in part because of significant improvements in digital quality."

Despite the move from screenprinting to digital, fleet graphics still present challenges. The difficulty in creating these "rolling billboards," as Costello refers to them, cannot go unnoticed. "Fleet graphics combine elements of other graphics—striping and kiss cut vinyl lettering. It is important to provide installers with clear, concise instructions to ensure successful applications," he continues.

Cross-publicizing a customer’s message with fleet wraps creates immediate cost advantages. A traveling marketing message expands audience reach. One of Vernon Display Graphics’ oldest clients, Goya Foods, Inc., realized the benefits of fleet signage before digital printing was even an option.

A Good Commitment
Goya Foods, Inc., created in 1936 by Don and Carolina Prudenio Unanue, began as a small Spanish food store in Manhattan, NY. The store catered to local Hispanic families by serving products such as olives, olive oil, and sardines. Providing fresh tasting, high-quality food, the Unanues created Goya’s trademarked message, "If it’s Goya, it has to be good." Their commitment to excellence solidified their place as a leader in the Latin American food industry.

Today, Goya Foods consists of over 1,500 product offerings with major distribution centers covering the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the U.S. To cover the area, advertising must be inexpensive, consistent, and illustrate Goya Foods’ rich history.

Fleet graphics achieve all three of these goals. "With these rolling billboards moving throughout every major market in the U.S., we are able to create favorable impressions at a much lower cost than other advertising media," shares Joseph Perez, senior VP, Goya Foods.

Prior to utilizing digitally-printed specialty media for the graphics, the company ordered individual screenprinted decals for its vehicles.

"Our original process required ordering set, screenprinted images at large quantities and maintaining inventory for distribution. Digital production allows us to change to an on demand ordering procedure, which eliminates the need for inventory maintenance. Digital production also enables us to present many new products with distinct design possibilities."

Change Up
With minimized inventory directly cutting costs, Goya Foods began outfitting trucks and trailers that travel throughout 13 regional centers in the U.S. Vernon Display worked closely with Goya Foods in the past, creating both screenprinted decals and partial digitally printed decals. Goya Foods also used Vernon Display Graphics for beverage machine signage and banner projects, and is discussing exterior building projects and retail displays.

For the truck and trailer outfitting, in particular, Costello and his team helped Goya create a full digital wrap that included the following client requests—a fresh, bold contemporary look; a more colorful background with gradient effects; and a section of the design that could be interchangeable on the fly.

Discussion of the full wraps dates back to 2003. By 2006 planning was heavily under way, with production orders beginning in 2007.

Pre-printing included design collaboration between Vernon Display Graphics, Goya Foods, and designer, Alan Stabile from Alan Stabile Graphic Productions. Stabile worked closely with Goya Foods to develop the creative side of the fleet re-branding project. His designs are at the forefront of the project’s success.

Helping determine the final designs and coordinating correspondence between the many regional distribution centers was Elizabeth Pelaez, label and packaging specialist, Goya Foods. "Joseph Perez, Alan Stabile, and I worked very closely creating the designs for the fleet program—a great experience that we all worked very hard on. Teamwork helped us complete this exciting project."

In the preliminary stages, testing for color accuracy and print quality checks are important. This testing ensures error-free print resolution and material application.

Vernon Display Graphics uses 3M Controltac Graphic Film IJ180-10 with Comply Adhesive, accented with an exterior grade overlaminate as the base film for the vehicles. Rear doors on all of the trucks and trailers are wrapped in 3M Scotchlite Reflective Graphic Film 680-10CR. Changeable ad panels are produced with 3M Controltac Changeable Graphic Film 3552-10C. All media is printed on an EFI/VUTEk 3360. The superwide printer can be used for both solvent and dye-sublimation applications. Thanks to a warranty agreement between 3M and EFI/VUTEk, the fleet applications are designed to last at least five years when printed with the above media on the VUTEk 3360.

Solving Problems
Some physical challenges arose during the initial production stages of the fleet graphics. The Vernon Display team faced the predicament of whether or not to remove existing truck and trailer decals or simply cover them with the 3M base vinyl.

The solution was a systematic testing process. Costello elaborates, "After setting up a trailer for test removal and another trailer as a test cover, it was decided to cover the existing fleet decals on the side with the new design. The rear of the trailers required complete removal of the original decals."

Another issue the team had to overcome was the timing of the project. Between Vernon Display Graphics, Goya Foods, and the installer—Applied Graphics, Inc.—a priority schedule was created based on regions. "We worked very closely with Mario Boccongelli, installer, Applied Graphics, Inc., who was very helpful in executing a plan to make the project work smoothly without disrupting operations at the distribution centers," explains Costello. Costello himself was a key aspect in coordinating the entire process—from printing to delivery and installation.

Tradition Leads the Way
With 155 of its trucks and trailers currently re-branded, Goya Foods plans to update additional vehicles currently part of the fleet. The previously discussed changeable ad panels will promote new products, events, and more region-specific marketing. The new promotions are expected to be released in 2009.

Goya Foods is satisfied with the project’s results so far. The experience helped them realize just how influential fleet graphics are. "Advertising with fleet graphics allows us to build the Goya brand in a way that shows our new products and image in a photo-realistic setting," expresses Perez.

Goya Foods’ interchangeable graphic project is certainly revolutionary in both fleet graphics and consumer advertising. According to Costello, "It is really unique to deliver a menu of sophisticated designs to separate regions and have them make product selections because they know what works well in their marketplace. Instead of corporate releasing a standard, it allows market input in the areas where trucks and trailers plan on traveling."

A la carte marketing is sure to become popular in the graphic arts and consumer product market. With innovative hardware and media—in addition to teamwork—the process is as seamless as Goya Foods’ transition from screenprinted decals to digital wraps for their fleet.

It is clear that both Goya Foods and Vernon Display Graphics are great examples of businesses upholding traditional values while still leading the way with innovative technology and marketing.

Goya Foods’ fleet graphics initiative is guaranteed to generate attention, and therefore, results with its strategic combination of quality hardware and media, experience, teamwork, talent, and creativity.

Aug2008, Digital Output

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