The Razor's Edge

A Virgin Blue Boeing 737 becomes a "skyboard" for Gillette.

Big Picture

To help launch the Gillette M3Power razor in Australia, design/ad agency Clemenger BBDO decided to partner with Virgin Blue airlines to transform one of its Boeing 737s into a giant "skyboard." Rice Graphics Images and Cactus Imaging were brought on to take care of the output and installation.

Gillette, Virgin Blue airlines

The Players
Design/ad agency: Clemenger BBDO (
Leading contractor and installation: Rice Graphics Images (
Output: Cactus Imaging Australia (

Tools & Supplies
NUR Expedio 5000 UV 8-color printer, Avery 7900 Aircraft Marking Film, DuPont liquid laminate (modified)

The painting of the plane's hull was executed by Worland Aviation, based at the Albury, New South Wales airport. Originally red, it was given a new black and green paint job --colors coinciding with Gillette's M3Power ad campaign.

Then Rice Graphics and Cactus Imaging got involved. Initially, the lead time was 15 days, but the Avery media (being shipped from Europe via Japan) was lost in transit. "With great assistance from Avery," recalls Rice Graphics general manager David Rice, more media was then shipped. But the lead time had been compressed to just 7 days.

Once the materials were received in Sydney, Cactus Graphics - which was on standby -- output the final artwork (given a thumbs up just 6 hours earlier by Boeing) overnight via its Nur Expedio 5000 printer.

David Rice accompanied the prints to his facility in Albury Wodonga, situated on the border between New South Wales and Victoria. There, they applied a liquid laminate - "a modified DuPont product that we have used on many other applications." For the plane's nose, a particularly high-erosion area, Rice and Cactus "seriously modified" the print and laminate specs.

Rice's team took on the installation, which was overseen by Avery manager Mark Canavan. The installation process took 45 man-hours, with Boeing signing off on the final graphics and install. The plane was launched to the press the following morning.

"The idea of advertising on jets is very Virgin Blue-new and not seen before," says Brett Godfrey, Virgin Blue's CEO. "With 49 aircraft in our fleet, we may well consider extending it to some of our other planes and having some fun with that."

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