Cut Out for Success
Olympus Group brings fans to the game in a new way during the pandemic.
Olympus Group, a PSP based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been instrumental in enhancing the entertainment factor behind professional sports during COVID-19. Their local Major League Baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, got the idea to fill their empty stadium with printed cutouts of fans after seeing Germany’s Bundesliga soccer league adopt the strategy; they were the first major sport to return to play during the pandemic.
The Brewers loved the idea because “empty seats don’t look empty, and fans can still have a connection to the team in a fun way,” says Brian Adam, owner, Olympus Group. The shop’s deal with the baseball team quickly blossomed into more opportunities with the Cincinnati Reds and the Colorado Rockies.
“When we were first positioning it to the Brewers, there were a lot of potential hurdles and red flags for Major League Baseball. They don’t want people to upload an obscene image,” says Adam. “How do we filter these images? Who screens them? So, we worked with the Brewers to try to address those concerns and filter the images as they come in so everything is above board and appropriate.” Olympus Group initially tested the process with a limited launch of 500 cut outs in early July. “It was extremely well received,” he says. “It went so well that the Brewers called up the Reds and told them about it, so we connected with the Reds and walked them through the process.”
To date, Olympus Group has completed more than 10,000 cutouts for the Reds and Brewers combined, and the Rockies are adding even more prints to the shop’s plate. In order to handle these orders, Olympus had to develop an airtight prepress strategy so they could quickly convert the fan photo submissions into cutouts.
“We had to spend a fair amount of time on the IT side so we could set up a system that automates the pre-production element of the whole thing,” says Adam. “The printing is pretty straight forward and we cut the same shape for all of them, but screening the images and then ensuring that we can get them onto the press without having to prepress tweak or setup thousands and thousands of images was probably the biggest challenge as a printer.”
Olympus Group prints the cutouts onto Coroplast using one of two printers, depending on which facility is producing the product, a Fuji Acuity UV flatbed printer or a VUTEk GS3250 3.2-meter-wide flatbed, roll-to-roll UV printer. Most teams plan to leave the cutouts in their respective seats all season long. The Coroplast is intended to last the whole season as it’s weatherproof. Some teams are even offering the cutouts to the fans after the season so they can have a piece of memorabilia from this historic season.
The success of the cutout projects has been great for Olympus Group and has opened the door to new opportunities and increased business in the future.
“The big thing for us throughout this has been the referrals and the networks,” says Adam. “A cool thing we’ve done in Milwaukee is print cutouts for Aurora Health Care, one of the big healthcare systems in our area and a sponsor of the Brewers.” Aurora asked for 300 cutouts of healthcare workers to be featured on TV during the games. “We printed those for free. Also, the Reds were impressed with how smoothly things have gone, and have passed along our info to other businesses and minor league affiliates.”