Tailgating’s Cautionary Tale

Great Big Color prints 3D billboard for Colorado State Patrol.

Big Picture

Since the spring of 2010, advertising and PR firm Amélie Company has been working with the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) to get Colorado residents to drive more safely around big trucks. That year, “We did billboards, radio ads, magnets, and more, urging motorists to give trucks more room,” recalls account executive Lexie Alcon. “We also created a warning card with instructions on how to drive around trucks. People who were pulled over for aggressive driving would be given the card.”

For this year, the ad firm had an idea for an even more dramatic approach. Amélie presented the CSP with an idea for a three-dimensional billboard that would show, in graphic fashion, what happens to a tailgating car that runs into the back of a truck.

“We really wanted to show this in a way that would make people notice,” says Alcon. “Our goal was to make it look like two billboards had actually crashed together.” The CSP approved the idea; the next step was to line up the people who could make it work.

Amélie turned to local photo retoucher Armando Martinez to put together the image of the crash, Bill Kinsey of Eye Candy Props to construct the 3D elements, and print provider greatBIGcolor to supply the print work. “We asked Bill to tell us how far things could protrude from a billboard, how far they could extend above and below, and how much they could weigh. The billboard had to stay up for two months,” says Alcon.

To create the 3D image, Amélie produced two separate pieces of art: one showing the left and right sides of the final image (the back of the car and the front of the truck), with a section in the middle depicting the actual structure of the billboard; and a second with cut lines where Kinsey would slice the vinyl and apply it to a plywood framework to create the 3D crumpled effect.

“We printed the main piece of art as one full 14 x 48-foot piece, with a four-inch bleed and four-inch pockets for installation,” recalls Great Big Color account executive Kristin Battenfield. “We printed it on our EFI Vutek GS5000r, onto 10-ounce Soyang vinyl.

“We printed the middle piece on the same material,” she says. “Bill hand-cut each piece of art with a razor blade and then glued the vinyl directly to the plywood structure to achieve the accordion 3D effect.”

The final striking display spent two months installed, cautioning drivers on Interstate 70, the main east-west route across the state of Colorado.

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