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Nascar and Networking

(April 2014) posted on Tue Apr 22, 2014

GCI Graphics tackles graphics for the Daytona International Speedway's networking event.


By Adrienne Palmer

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When it comes to the Daytona International Speedway, Budweiser cans, American flag T-shirts, and thundering noise typically come to mind. But there’s a whole other side to the Daytona 500 event that happens away from the 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway: a designated area on track grounds for all the interactive experiential marketing teams involved with the event.

“It’s the best networking event in the country,” says Tyler Alexander, vice president of GCI Graphics (www.gcigraphics.com). “Every major brand that’s involved in that sport on the sponsorship side is onsite along with the agency partner. There’s nowhere else you can interact with that many people in one place, so its just part of what we do.”

The print shop focuses on custom and large-run vinyl and fabric banners and P-O-P and fleet, including graphics various motorsports events and applications.

“We try to stay away from the Nascar culture; we aren’t involved in that side,” he continues. “There’s a big difference between the fan and the business side of Nascar which is driven by the brands and the advertising marketing agencies. That’s who we try to interact with. The fan base can be a little overwhelming, as you can imagine.”

GCI Graphics tackled the networking event during the long weekend for its own business opportunities. But the shop also provided the graphics for 3M’s booths, Coca Cola’s stage, and Chevrolet’s tent at the 480-acre motorsports complex, totaling 13,000 square feet of graphics.

For the impressive Chevy tent showcasing its performance and racing parts – which included a 16 x 30-foot fabric wall, 5 x 106-foot trailer top header, and 14-foot graphics for a tower – GCI was contacted by its agency partner, PMG Racing, which supplied the graphics. GCI modified these for size and then provided a soft proof on screen along with an actual color sample.

It took GCI one week to print 2000 square feet (10-foot sections) of water-resistant, dye-sub fabrics from A. Berger Textiles, using the shop’s D.gen Teleios Grande 10-foot-wide dye-sub printer.

Finishing ran the gamut, Alexander reports: “Everything from reinforced vinyl pole pockets sewn into the fabric for the 16-foot wall, to 2-inch wide Velcro finished all the way around the info desk, and 53-foot trailer headers, to zippers and opaque liners for the fabric Chevy tower. We did sewing of opaque liners, webbing, and grommets.” All this finishing took about 50 hours.

Of course challenges did arise for the shop when the entire city of Atlanta shut down for three days due to a “snow storm,” during prep time. Alexander had to drive his four-wheel Chevy Silverado an hour and a half north of Atlanta at 5 a.m. to pick up four of his employees in the cut and sew/finishing department – plus his production manager and business partner – to finish the sewing for the 3M, Chevy, and Coca Cola projects, ensuring the output made it to Daytona on time.

“There was no one on the roads – the entire city was shut down,” Alexander says. “We worked an entire day with six employees out of our 38 total employees… and approximately 10 employees the following day. And this was the second storm we had to deal with in about 12 days.”

The first storm came through two weeks before and put GCI out of business for two and a half days. “We lost almost an entire week of production due to these two storms,” he says. “It really was our great staff coming in at night and weekends, as well as tremendous patience on behalf of our agency clients who were managing a brand’s expectations for their premier experiential event to kick off the 2014 season.”
 


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