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The Fantastic Floor

Make Use of Prime Marketing Space

By Amber E. Watson

The focus of display and point of purchase (POP) typically centers on signage at eye level. Floor graphics, however, should not be overlooked. Many brand managers, advertisers, event managers, and retailers realize the benefits of messaging using all surface space, including floors. Likewise, print service providers (PSPs) encourage customers to utilize floor space as a valuable marketing opportunity.


Floor graphics are a complement to more traditional forms of signage and the trend now extends beyond retail stores into arenas, interior design, and even outdoors. Shorter term graphics are still the norm, based on what is being promoted, however long-term applications are seeing some traction. With more durable and versatile media, as well as anti-slip overlaminates, the possibilities are endless.


Watch Your Step

Retail continues to be a popular placement for floor applications. Advertisements in the aisle draw the eye to the location of the product on the shelf. “There is a tremendous amount of last minute decision making, and floor graphics connect with consumers at a crucial point. In-store vendors often use them to edge out the competition,” explains Jodi Sawyer, product manager, product branding, FLEXcon.


“Many retail stores sell floor space for additional income,” adds Robert Rundle, viscom market manager, Ritrama.


Ritrama’s Floor Talkers are used inside many grocery stores and retail environments. Chris Hogan, outside sales representative, Bloomingdale Signs by Tomorrow of Bloomingdale, IL, promotes the product for its slight texture, which helps add to color vibrancy and makes the graphics less susceptible to scratching.


Artists are becoming more creative in their designs, allowing graphics to grow in size and scope. Some now include three-dimensional (3D) design, or cover larger surface areas such as branding an entire aisle.


Floor graphics extend available advertising space. “Smaller stores rely on floor graphics due to limited overall space,” says Tyler Reich, director of product development, Qué Media Inc. “The floor opens up about 25 percent more space on average for new advertisements.”


“Traditionally, the grocery segment of retail presents one of the strongest demand drivers, with studies showing seven to 16 percent of sales lift results,” shares Sawyer.


Mass appeal and recent innovations in media have pushed floor graphics applications into other markets as well. Jaime Sherman, marketing manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc., notices an increase in floor graphics featuring product advertising or wayfinding at concerts and sports venues/arenas.


Jason Yard, marketing manager, MACtac Graphic Products, calls attention to fast food restaurants utilizing floor graphics to promote new products, and hospitals and museums increasingly relying on them for directional signage or exhibits.


Floor graphics may also be used for decoration at large events, such as conventions or trade shows. Dione Metnick, product manager, LexJet Corporation, describes applications in which companies choose to thematically transform a floor into a miniature football field or basketball court.


Full-floor applications are the most recent trend according to Bill Rothe, VP clear products, Better Life Technology (BLT) LLC, especially for event marketing companies.


Interior Design Elements

Floor graphics don’t need to include text to promote a product or direct someone to a place. Increasingly, the décor market—both home and out of home—look to digitally printed floor graphics to cost effectively transform a space.


David Timmerman, West Coast technical services representative, Avery Dennison Graphics and Reflective Solutions, highlights the trend of changing the look of a floor by printing and installing a design that resembles wood or cobblestone.


Coronado, CA-based APE Wraps recently installed digitally printed floor graphics that resembled a floor for a set at KSL 5 News in Salt Lake City, UT. “The designers wanted to create a wood floor graphic to complement the vinyl wood floor in the new interview area of the set,” explains Troy Downey, president, APE Wraps.


The biggest challenge involved preparing the floor for installation. “The floor was not free of debris, nor was it as smooth as expected,” recalls Downey. A return trip was necessary for final application. However, the second visit was not without issue as the set was already in place and was not to the scale they expected.


Another concern involved the material; it had to survive a high-traffic area where the station’s cameras move back and forth throughout newscasts. The designers were concerned about protecting the digitally printed wood floor graphic and also maintaining a smooth surface for the cameras, so no bumps were allowed.


APE Wraps previously installed floor graphics printed on Avery Dennison’s MPI 1005 Supercast Easy Apply RS with DOL 1060 Gloss overlaminate in the Museum of Man in San Diego, CA, so they knew the material would last. “The exhibit was only supposed to be open for three to six months, but ended up open for a year,” adds Downey. The floor graphics never lifted and maintained the fit and finish even in high traffic areas. “We were confident the wood floor graphics would look great and that the DOL 1060 Gloss lamination would protect them and provide the high gloss finish the designers wanted to match the rest of the floor.”


From Inside to Outside

Floor graphics are used indoors because they are better protected and last longer, but outdoor placement is now possible due to new materials. “As more materials are available for outdoor use, we see floor graphics in parades, sporting events, sidewalk graphics, and parking lots,” adds Marcel Medved, sales manager, Asphalt Art.


Asphalt Art’s aluminum foil-based product, for instance, tolerates temperature variations as well as pedestrian and vehicle traffic, making it an ideal candidate for outdoor application.


Avery Dennison MPI 6121 Street Graphics Film is used to create outdoor graphics on rough surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and pavement. This product conforms to rough surfaces and shows a paint-like finish when applied properly.


MACtac IMAGin StreetRAP is designed to last outdoors and sticks to rough concrete surfaces.


3M Commercial Graphics also offers films, which may be used on sidewalks so that a promotion begins outside of one’s business, and continues inside. “A major consideration in determining location is environmental elements and level of heavy equipment traffic,” suggests Tammi Johnson, marketing development manager, 3M.


Creating cohesive indoor and/or outdoor displays is a wise marketing strategy. Rundle sees a new trend of floor graphics paired with wall graphics for one continuous and 3D graphic that stands out. With more media available for outdoor use, retailers can carry a message from the sidewalk or entryway of the store to the indoor promotion to tie it all together.


Run from a 250,000 square foot facility in Hawthorne, CA Lithographix began printing floor graphics on a small scale for a few advertising agencies and car dealerships in 2011. It now produces applications for corporate offices, trade shows, events, and inside hotels and various elevators.


Lithographix promotes the use of Asphalt Art’s CatWalk for indoor floors and original Asphalt Art for long-term outdoor, concrete, and sidewalk graphics. “I like the fact that it does not require laminate, but it still is a fairly expensive base material,” notes Lani Anderson, grand format, retail sales development, Lithographix.


Terms of Application

The majority of floor graphics are designed for short-term use, spanning from a single day to up to six months. Because floor graphics are often used to promote a timely, targeted message there is no need to keep them in place very long. Seasonal sales are an example. “At the end of each year, holiday shopping deals are prevalent and retailers rely on floor graphics to lead customers to the specified promotion or sale,” explains Timmerman.


Some areas, however, elicit a longer life span for floor graphics, say one to three years. “Long-term floor graphics are often found in the décor or wayfinding markets,” says Yard.


A solvent-coated fabric test floor graphic appears outside Qué Media’s headquarters and has held up well the last year. “While a little scuffed, it is still visible and serves its purpose,” shares Reich.


To keep floor graphics looking fresh, somewhat consistent replacement is required, as dirty graphics are a poor way to represent a company. Due to the placement of floor graphics, these applications are subject to some of the most intense tests of abrasion and durability. “It is important to understand that floor graphics are temporary and should be removed if they show damage or excessive wear,” states Matt Buckley, marketing and technical manager, FDC Graphic Films, Inc.


Certain measures ensure the longest use. It is a good idea to test the media on the intended surface before the actual install. With so many types of floor surfaces and several types of graphic films to choose, addressing incompatibilities up front is important to avoid wasting time and money.


“Not all media is interchangeable, so it is important to know the surface and its limitations,” cautions Yard.


Rundle agrees. “Know the floor you apply to and ensure the right media and overlaminate are used. Vinyl flooring, tile with large grout gaps, and hardwood with poor varnish adhesion all require different media and overlaminate combinations.”


According to Johnson, installation is the number one challenge for floor graphics since they can be applied to waxed vinyl, sealed concrete, marble, ceramic tile, sealed wood, and terrazzo.


Along with paying close attention to the application surface, proper preparation is critical. Media vendors agree a clean, dry surface free of loose debris deters peeling. Cleaning and maintaining the floor graphic after install also helps keep it looking its best for as long as possible.


Laminate Against Liability

In addition to cleaning and upkeep, lamination helps prolong intended life. According to Sawyer, durable overlaminates for high-traffic areas such as carpet graphics at trade shows are increasing in use, as clients want the material to hold up for the life of the event or the promotion. 


A laminate is not just about protecting the graphic, but also the people walking over them. Vendors recommend laminating all floor graphics to provide protection of the printed image against scuffing, abrasion, and lifting, as well as to offer slip resistance.


The laminate should be UL certified for slip resistance. Most corporate retail outlets only use media that is underwritten and classified as UL 410 slip resistant. 


Media manufacturers often recommend specific laminate and overlaminate to accompany their product. MACtac, for example, offers five laminates designed and tested for slip resistance. LexJet’s laminates used with LexJet Simple Clear Indoor FloorAd and Simple CarpetAd are also designed and rated for slip resistance. Avery Dennison offers eight laminates that are UL certified for slip resistance.


Other vendors point out that lamination is wise, but is not always necessary, especially if the floor graphic media features a built-in non-slip component. Asphalt Art’s products, for instance, do not require lamination, as they come with non-slip texture built into the product.


“Some PSPs or end users choose not laminate to save money, or because the application is very short term—with some applications only out for the day,” adds Dee Mays, Midwest territory manager, Oracal USA.


Products Fit for Floors

Multiple vendors offer media for graphics applied to various floor types—inside or outside. Below is a selection of products.


3M Controltac Graphic Film IJ162 and 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 3645 is warranted for one year and used for brand identity or long-term promotions. 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive IJ40C and 3M Scotchcal High Gloss Overlaminate 3648 clear is an economical solution for short-term promotions.


Asphalt Art offers five application-specific products for floor graphics—Asphalt Art, SportWalk, CatWalk, ClearWalk, and TexWalk. No lamination or heat gun is needed, and they last from one week to one year. Retail price for the unprinted material varies from $1.25 to five dollars a square foot.


Avery Dennison MPI 2920 Matte Permanent and MPI 2921 Matte Removable are both 3.4-mil calendered films. Partnered with DOL 2000 series laminate, which is a 3.1-mil calendered product, PSPs attain a slip-resistant floor graphic for six months when properly applied. The MPI 6121 Street Graphics Film is for outdoor graphics and features micro-fracture technology.


BLT’s G-Floor graphic is a vinyl flooring material used for direct print applications. Full installation to temporary smaller applications are available thanks to the unique properties of the product line.


FDC’s primary floor graphic product, Series 7243, is a 3.4-mil calendered vinyl film with a removable adhesive. It is designed for use in conjunction with the 6-mil Series 7051 calendered textured laminate that provides abrasion and slip resistance.


FLEXcon’s FLEXmark V 400 F White Opaque A-109 90 PFW base film with FLEXmark OV 600 Frosty Clear Safari V-29 71B PMO-8 overlaminate is one of many floor graphics systems the company offers. The film is designed for removability up to 180 days following installation.


LexJet’s Simple Clear Indoor FloorAd laminated with Floor Gloss Laminate (3 mil) or Floor Velvet Laminate (5 mil) are ideal options for floor graphics. Simple Clear Indoor FloorAd is a 3.4-mil white matte vinyl with a removable adhesive that bonds well to commercial tile, sealed concrete, and linoleum. It is cleanly removable for up to six months. Total solution cost, printable vinyl, and laminate starts at $.62 per square foot.


One of MACtac’s most popular specialty products is IMAGin StreetRAP paired with the Permacolor PermaFlex PF6300 overlaminate. This combination is used for unsealed concrete or asphalt surfaces, such as sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways for short-term event graphics. It is durable up to 90 days outdoors and is easy to install due to its thickness.


Oracal’s Orajet 1663 PVC Digital Media for floor graphics is recommend for use with either Oraguard 250AS Skid Resistant PVC Laminating Film or Oraguard 255AS Skid Resistant PVC Laminating Film for high load exposure.


Photo Tex Group, Inc.’s peel-and-stick printable media is known for its use in wallcoverings, however its suitable for the floor as well. The material does not peel, rip, or wrinkle indoors or outdoors. It can be moved and re-applied repeatedly. According to the company, Photo Tex can be placed on practically any surface.


Ritrama’s Classic Gloss low-tack media with Performance Floor Talker provides performance of six months at a retail price of $.57 a square foot for both products. Ritrama’s low-tack adhesive is ideal for solid tiled floor commonly used in retail flooring.


Ultraflex’s FloorFlex Digital is a textured, 42-ounce printable floor substrate that is suitable for latex and UV printers. This lay-flat material is engineered with a certified non-slip surface and a latex padded backing.


Ultraflex introduced AquaFlex for underwater floors. It is a solvent, latex, and UV printable substrate designed for underwater branding and advertising for pools, ponds, various water features, and aquascapes. To protect ink underwater, UV liquid lamination is recommended.


Think Floors

Floor graphic applications are useful in different environments, from supermarkets to entertainment facilities. As Lisa Humrich, marketing manager, Oracal, points out, “floor graphics rarely have to fight for attention, as there are simply fewer eye-catching distractions to compete with.”


It is time consumers and PSPs consider the floor as part of marketing strategy. With new products, more durable indoor and outdoor applications are possible. Floor graphics’ versatility, positioning, and the ability to provide a creative advertising medium promise high visibility and impact.


Apr2013, Digital Output

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