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Substrates that POP

Sell and Promote to Increase Longevity and Boost Response

By Kim Crowley

Point of purchase (POP) displays are calls to action. If they are creative and successful, they evoke emotion, entice sales, and promote brand.

Signs are often changed out every week in venues where merchandise sales, movie attractions, and other timely promotions shift. Printed graphics are also replaced as a result of wear and tear, especially in high-traffic retail environments.

The first six months of 2009 reflected tightened marketing budgets. In some instances retailers and other marketers responded by changing out displays and POP less frequently. These print buyers look to substrates and finishing techniques that ensure durable prints are able to withstand harsh elements.

“Digital media allows custom images to be produced easily and quickly,” says Lance Hutt, global product manager, digital, Avery Dennison. “Graphics are printed on cast films for long-term applications, or on calendered films for short-term campaigns and promotions, which is more affordable.”

Substrate Considerations
Media selection is influenced by a number of factors. “Very different materials are needed for a short-term poster versus a graphic intended to look like paint on a rough textured wall. Selecting appropriate media for the application is always critical,” state Mary Ann L. Kucera, product marketing manager and Jeffrey J. Stadelman, technical marketing manager, MACtac Graphic Products.

Media selection is based on durability requirements, length of display time, surface texture, and more. Selection is unique to the type of display or sign, the way it will be used, and budget.

Print service providers (PSPs) must consider if the graphic will be subject to scratches or handprints. They should know if the print needs to be translucent, washable, or UV-protected. Other considerations include whether the display is moved and re-assembled numerous times.

“When I discuss an application using fabric with one of our print partners, one of the things we consider is whether the print will be viewed close up and in one direction—like in a museum, or hung in a large arena and viewed at a distance from many different angles,” explains Jeff Sanders, digital fabrics sales manager, Pacific Coast Fabrics.

PSPs can test short rolls from companies such as 3M Graphics Market Center to ensure proper selection. The 3M Promotional Products line features adhesive-backed vinyl, non-vinyl films, and overlaminates as well as banners designed for display and POP. “It provides customers with the ability to practice before they play,” shares Jason Amidon, marketing supervisor, 3M.

Substrate Options
Large format PSPs utilize many forms of media to address the needs of display and POP applications.

Vinyl is a popular POP substrate. “Vinyl films are flexible, low-cost, and offer ease of installation and removal. Their construction and choice of adhesives makes them well suited for direct application on smooth, non-porous surfaces including floors, windows, walls, and columns, or in combination with other rigid and flexible substrates,” says David Grant, VP of marketing, Oracal USA.

According to Grant, vinyl films designed for display and POP applications are for short-term use, and usually feature low-tack adhesives and thicker face films that facilitate ease of application and removal.

Neschen Americas’ new line of value Self Adhesive Vinyls are high-performance products made in the U.S., at prices that allow even small shops to profit, shares Andreas DeGroot, senior product manager, print media, Neschen.

“Vinyls are often used in POP due to their versatility. There are so many different adhesives and face stocks to choose from,” comments Ritchie Daize, international print media sales manager, Arlon, Inc.

Fabric is another appropriate choice. “It is versatile, visually appealing, and easy to transport. Whether it is hanging freely or stretched onto a frame or form, textiles provide a stylish and high-impact medium to communicate an idea or product,” states Sanders.

“Fabric provides a high-end, warm, soft feel that the consumer connects with emotionally,” notes Mike Richardson, director of sales and marketing, print media, Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc. Aurora offers 33 styles of coated and uncoated textiles. Both product lines are compatible with UV-curable hardware technologies.

In addition to polyester film media and solvent photo paper, Neschen offers the Pure Color Media line of digitally printable textiles. “Mambo Fabric is an ideal choice for an apparel shop’s in-store signage. It adds character, movement, and depth to the message in a sophisticated way,” says DeGroot.

Signs and More
Savvy retailers use space wisely to draw attention. They place POP on doors, windows, floors, ceilings, and at cash registers. The textures of certain walls, stairs, benches, and other surfaces require prep work, careful application, and finishing.

Hutt notes that wall films create an upscale feel, and they are easily applied and removed. Avery MPI 2611 Wall Film does not require pre-masking, and it can be used without an overlaminate depending on the life of the graphic. “Its printability and image clarity make colors pop,” he adds.

Wall graphics require careful application and sometimes added heat. “Most wall graphic films must be applied very slowly and at extremely high temperatures—with a small margin for error,” states Daize. Arlon’s DPF 8000 film is applied cold and then heated to a low temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit to conform to textured surfaces including painted or sealed concrete, stucco, or cinder block.

Windows can be customized with seasonal, decorative, or promotional messages using perforated films. Clear Focus Imaging, Inc. recently introduced PosterVue. Adhered to the interior or exterior surface of windows, it features a 65/35 perforation pattern and 1.5-millimeter holes. A non-adhesive film, posters printed on PosterVue can be attached to glass using the optically clear transfer adhesive, AdHereVue.

“Virtually all POP window graphics are printed in full color and tend to be positioned at or near eye level, where they command the attention of consumers without blocking the view from the inside. Glass entry doors, front store windows, and beverage and freezer section doors are all prime locations for window graphics,” explains Judy Bellah, public relations manager, Clear Focus.

Marketing messages can also be applied to a variety of floor surfaces including wood, concrete, carpet, and tile—indoors and out. PSPs should make sure floor graphics are laminated with UL approved overlaminates for slip resistance to ensure safety. When paired with MACtac’s PF6300 slip resistant overlaminate, the company’s StreetRap media is designed for unsealed pedestrian walkways.

Oracal produces textured laminates for floor applications that minimize the danger of slipping, while withstanding damage caused by heavy foot traffic.

Counter mats offer a last-chance advertising medium to increase add-on sales. “While almost all media is suitable for counter mats, most laminates are not,” share Kucera and Stadelman. “They should be laminated with a relatively thick, scuff-resistant product. Polycarbonate media, such as MACtac’s Permacolor IP6000 series, and textured vinyls, such as Permacolor LF6530 and PF6300, are tough enough to last in this challenging application.”

“Our adhesive-backed films offer a range of options, from high-strength permanent to low-tack changeable, to let customers utilize available space and represent their brand in a professional manner. From the asphalt, concrete, or interior floors their customers walk on, to the vehicles they arrive by, the interior and exterior brick and mortar they shop in, or the handheld electronic checkout devices consumers are beginning to shop with, 3M has an adhesive-backed solution for PSPs to showcase a brand,” says Amidon.

Start to Finish
Work is required to prepare surfaces before applying certain films and substrates. To use Arlon’s DPF 8000 film on concrete or other aggregate surfaces, for example, the wall must be painted or sealed first to ensure clean removal.

Mounting, laminating, cutting, sewing, and grometting are possible finishing steps. “Straight cuts, square edges, and no fingerprints on the front or back of the graphic are a must for repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations,” suggests DeGroot.

Handling is important as well. DeGroot recommends that thick, stiff graphics be rolled with the image side out and wound no tighter than eight inches in diameter to prevent laminates from popping and tunneling.

Depending on the print process used, fabrics may require post-processing which includes washing and steaming. Many options from Pacific Coast Fabrics are treated with a no-wash-off coating to save money and production time, including Poly Taffeta 9988FLBS. This fabric is a 2.1 ounce optic white textile that is 100 percent recyclable. It features an aqueous and flame repellent coating.

View to Sell
Beyond surface preparation and application, retailers and marketers should consider how their graphics will be viewed. “It’s important that customers not only consider the surface the substrate applies to but also the environment the customer will view the graphic in,” says Grant.

DeGroot says graphics viewed at close range require smooth surface media and a high-resolution image. “For this scenario utilize a coated media, even for solvent printing, to prevent bleed with heavy ink loads,” he advises.

HARMAN technology Ltd.’s new Opaljet XL films are specially coated for enhanced sharpness and viewing. The media’s unique nanoporous Alumina coating is designed for exceptional image sharpness. The coating, along with a light-stop extruded grey backing layer, preserves and enhances image stability.

Since light cannot penetrate the media, displays in mixed lighting conditions remain brighter with more impact. HARMAN also offers Opaljet XL 300, which is a heavier weight film suited for pop-up displays and freestanding banner stands.

Retail stores, restaurants, theaters, and sports venues often feature strong lighting that can alter viewability. “Consider whether the use of matte or semi-gloss media or laminates is required to reduce unwanted reflections,” says Grant. Oracal’s textured laminates for floor graphics typically feature matte finishes to inhibit unwanted reflections.

Modern Forces
The economy forces PSPs to shop for media that offers the best value with the least opportunity for errors and waste.

Affordability and ease-of-use are features of Arlon’s DPF 4560GTX calendered intermediate film for large, flat surface applications. “Many mid-sized to small printers do not have the capability to print directly to rigid substrates and find DPF 4560GTX to be well suited for sign boards or other flat surface applications,” says Daize.

The environment plays a role in sign and POP production. With frequent, seasonal, and sales-based sign changes, POP produces a lot of waste. Some vendors offer “green” substrate options, recycled media, and recycling programs as a balance.

Aurora offers two textile product lines made with 100 percent recycled polyester fiber. All of the company’s 100 percent polyester textiles can be returned to Aurora for recycling as well. The program is called FabRecycle.

3M also offers environmentally friendly products. “Our non-vinyl options provide solutions for eco-friendly PSPs,” states Amidon.

Substrates from conVerd LLC are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. These are 100 percent recyclable paper alternatives to PVC vinyl banner, foam and corrugated plastic boards, and synthetic films.

“Advance sustainability without sacrificing print quality,” state Al Ammerman and Paul Paulette, VPs of sustainability, conVerd. conVerd media options include Blox-Lite opaque banner and sign material, which can be sewn, grommetted, and hung. Also, CityLight Plus! and Enviroboard Moisture Resistant (MR) are both environmentally friendly substrates.

Great Green Wave
Great Big Color is located in Denver, CO. The 40-employee shop produces POP, displays, banners, vehicle wraps, billboards, and transit graphics.

Great Big Color produces POP and other work with a Gandinnovations Jeti 1224 UV flatbed, Hewlett-Packard Scitex XL Jet Premium and Turbojet printers, and Matan Digital Printers’ Barak5 hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed. They also use Neschen Americas AccuCure 72X UV liquid coating system, General Binding Corporation’s Titan hot laminators, a finishing system from i-cut, Inc., a Seal cold laminator, grommeters, and sewing machines.

About 75 percent of Great Big Color’s production is sign displays and POP, including signs, window and floor graphics, standees, banners, and danglers. The shop relies on innovative materials to produce these projects. These materials often consist of vinyl, fabric, and Coroplast boards.

Great Big Color recently began using conVerd’s products, which complement the company’s environmental initiatives because the substrates are FSC-certified, 100 percent recyclable paper.

“Our clients started inquiring about sustainable options, and now we use conVerd CityLight Plus! for backlits,” states Jeff Shumaker, VP of operations, Great Big Color. CityLight Plus! is a translucent backlit poster paper.

One Great Big Color customer, Philly Pretzel Factory, requested surfboard-shaped POP signs to promote their signature pretzel dogs. The franchise uses other innovative large format graphics as well, including vehicle wraps, to advertise their offerings.

Dog Days of Summer surfboards, promoting the pretzel dogs, were printed on conVerd Enviroboard MR rigid board with a Gandinnovations Jeti 1224 UV flatbed. “The print results are great, and using a FSC-certified product gives the client a marketing advantage,” states Shumaker.

He says that it was not a challenge to produce the surfboard shape. “The conVerd Enviroboard MR product is much easier to cut than the foam core,” he admits.

Great Big Color is happy to have provided a POP project using green media. The project is holding up well under the elements, and the customer is pleased.

POP Workflow
Grafix Solutions, Inc. in Sayreville, NJ, specializes in fleet graphics, vehicle wraps, outdoor advertising, and POP. The shop does just about all of their work in-house. This includes creative to printing, finishing, and installation—with 20 employees.

Display and POP work includes floor and window graphics, wall murals, banners, posters, cutouts, and more.

Grafix Solutions’ projects require careful attention to workflow, output quality, finishing, fulfillment, and installation. “Once you start receiving large jobs with different pieces and multiple employees work on fulfilling the order, it can get confusing,” says George Kern, senior graphic designer, Grafix Solutions. “Special attention needs to be made when the job is finished to make sure every piece is there, where it’s going, how it’s getting there, and special shipping needs for odd shapes.”

A project for sneaker manufacturer Asics during the 2008 New York City Marathon presented installation challenges and a tight turnaround. It included floor graphics, window graphics, posters, and banners printed on Avery MPI 1005 Easy Apply, Avery MPI 2528 Perforated Window 50/50, and Avery banner material.

“It was a very large project with many different production pieces that had to be completed in a short time frame to ensure adequate promotion of the event,” explains Kern.

Installation needed to be timed and arranged properly. “Scheduling the installations at many of the places throughout NYC was sometimes difficult because we had to work around the venues’ schedule,” says Kern, adding that some locations required special security clearance.

Weather is another common challenge. For a few recent projects, “it seemed every time we installed these graphics Mother Nature wanted to have a change of heart,” says Kern. Weather delays affected installation of The Capital Grille and Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet projects.

Large window graphics announce The Capital Grille restaurant’s new location at the Time Life Building in New York, NY. Grafix Solutions chose Avery MPI 1005 Easy Apply for the project because the graphics needed to block out construction inside.

Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet window graphics were designed to grab the attention of passing traffic while keeping within the boundaries of local ordinances that forbid signs too close to the highway.

The window graphics were printed on Avery MPI 1005 Easy Apply with liquid UV laminate. The company also cleverly used dual-duty vehicle wraps as delivery vehicles and billboards parked alongside the highway to draw attention. The vehicle wraps were made with Avery MPI 1005 Easy Apply and Avery DOL 1060 Gloss overlaminate.

Grafix Solutions keeps a close eye on quality production, managing multiple piece orders, and installation to handle a growing influx of display and POP work. “Within the last several months, requests for POP displays, window, and floor graphics have skyrocketed,” says Kern.

Pre-Game Display
Banner Sign Company, Inc. in Hazel Park, MI, produces graphics for events, interiors, architectural accents, soft signage, light pole banners, and flags. It was established in 1924. The facility also offers wholesale pricing to the trade for dye-sublimation (dye-sub) products.

The shop performs direct transfer dye-sub printing with eco-friendly water-based inks. “For our direct print products we use Pacific Coast Fabrics’ Flag Knit and Taffeta. We use these fabrics because they are lightweight and offer superior color saturation and thru-print capabilities,” notes Nicole Piach, co-owner/VP, Banner Sign Company.

Knowledge of dye-sub and display work is handy for projects such as one for the Detroit Red Wings 2009 NHL playoffs. “The Red Wings were in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tied three games to three, going into a deciding game seven,” says Piach. If the team advanced, a finished product would need to be delivered within 36 hours, which is what happened.

The venue, Joe Louis Arena, had safety requirements. “From a production standpoint, we needed to provide a certified flame retardant product, because the banners were used at the same time as a pyrotechnic display,” explains Piach.

Five 80-foot, two-sided banners unfurled from the rafters, then they were taken off the ice. The banners needed to be rolled without being bulky or cumbersome. They could not show creases or mar the ice. And finally, they had to be light enough for one person to easily and quickly move. Banner Sign Company chose Poly Taffeta 9988FLBS from Pacific Coast Fabrics.

“Having worked with the Poly Taffeta prior to this on previous projects, we knew this was the best fabric for the job. The banners unfurled beautifully and when they were released the crowd went crazy,” says Piach.

“We take a lot of pride in our pre-game presentation, and with this concept, we were able to give the crowd a new visual impact that was larger than life,” notes Paul J. MacDonald, CPA, VP of finance, Detroit Red Wings.

Banner Sign Company also produced a giant Red Wing jersey for the Spirit of Detroit and tiger statues. The request came in just as the shop’s dye-sub printer went down, but with a two day turnaround the shop was able to use their solvent inkjet printer to produce the larger-than-life jersey.

The banners and jerseys were printed using US Sublimation inks with a Mimaki USA, Inc. DS-1600 direct to fabric printer onto Pacific Coast Fabrics’ Poly Taffeta 9988FLBS. The banners were featured during eight games and the jerseys adorned the statues for two weeks. “Both held up wonderfully and are ready to use again next season,” says Piach.

Substrates that POP
Display and POP applications are everywhere—from museums to malls, football stadiums, and restaurants. They appear on varied surfaces—floors, walls, windows, and retail fixtures. POP helps promote products and services—essential advantages during a slow economy.

Specialized substrates address the unique needs of display and POP application surfaces by conveying a message, enhancing visibility, and increasing durability. Ultimately, an ideal substrate boosts response while fitting within a marketer’s budget.

PSPs must select the proper substrate to achieve the desired effect. The right media keeps cost down and sales up. To choose wisely, scrutinize the environment where the display will be placed or applied, study viewing conditions, calculate how long it needs to last, and plan a budget.

Oct2009, Digital Output
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