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A New Path to Client Success

(August 2011) posted on Tue Aug 09, 2011

In New York, Graphic Systems Group is aggressively pursuing the “de-coupling” trend.

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By Paula L. Yoho

Situated in the heart of the Big Apple at Fourth and Broadway, in a retail space formerly occupied by Tower Records, and replete with a multitude of GSG-produced full-color, larger-than-life, digitally printed graphics, the MLB Fan Cave is designed to engage baseball enthusiasts with a fully interactive experience. The “pop-up” store, which was set in place for the length of the 2011 baseball season, serves as the setting for myriad fan activities, including visits from major-league ballplayers and celebrities, big name musical performances, and a variety of baseball-related events and parties.

The concept for the cave is the brainchild of Paul DiMeo of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” fame, and includes a pool table, bar, 1950s-era diner, memorabilia museum, fantasy baseball counter, and pitch-speed tester, among other things. What’s more, thanks to a MLB-sanctioned contest, two lucky fans won the opportunity to literally eat, drink, and breathe baseball – living in the cave from the beginning of the season through the World Series.

For its part, GSG coordinated with the MLB design team as well as industry partner 3M to bring the magic of baseball to life.

“We worked together with 3M, which provided us with the vinyl for the project ,” explains Rodger Sheehan, vice president and senior accounts manager for GSG. “We put up a lot of window graphics, we did some CAD-cut vinyl on glass, and also created a plexi-map of the United States with images of all the different ballparks that they gathered from Google maps. Basically, it’s a lightbox, with separate switches for each of the ballparks. So, when there’s a game going on, they light up those different stadiums.”

For each of the different graphical elements, GSG worked with Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign files provided by the designers, then output onto more than 2000 square feet of 3M-provided media, including its IJ3650-114 and IJ180-10 vinyl, as well as 3635-22b adhesive on white side for windows and 3535-22b blockout film for the lightbox display.

Printing took more than two days using GSG’s stable of wide-format printers – an HP 10000, HP 9000, and Roland Camm1 – each with Onyx RIP and HP inks; and another three days for finishing with 3M matte and glossy lamination on the company’s Orca I and Orca 64 laminators. Then three of the company’s two-person crews were ready to tackle installation, which took about four days in early March, just before the first-pitch of the 2011 baseball season.

“Removal of previous window films, difficult access to the site, and working around multiple other work crews all at the same time were all part of the challenge,” says Sheehan. “And, prior to install, we had to work out numerous changes to content and schedules to meet various deadlines over nights and weekend, and we had to create design solutions when client expectations were modified.”

All in all, though, Sheehan calls the project a success: “This job was a perfect fit for our versatile and flexible approach and to our strength in project management.”

A major lever
For GSG, then, the “interesting ride” Madsen referred to is continuing, and his company is keeping an eye on where trends are going at present and in the future. For now, pursuing those clients who utilize ad agencies by rote is a primary goal. For instance, if what Madsen heard from many global brand managers representing Fortune 500 firms during a recent meeting of the Association of National Advertisers is true, the de-coupling of production from the traditional ad agency is making waves throughout the industry.

“If you’re using a de-coupler like GSG, you already have a competitive advantage over your competitor,” he says. “That’s why procurement is such a big deal now within all these major global brands. They’re bringing de-coupling to the forefront as a major lever for cost-savings.”