Ace Sign Company goes 'round and 'round for Scheels All Sports Superstore's ferris wheel wrap.

Add ferris wheels to the list of items that can be repurposed as ad space. Ace Sign Company of Springfield, Illinois, recently completed the second of what could become a series of ferris-wheel wraps for one of its clients.

But these rides aren’t headed for the county fair or amusement park. Instead, they’re actually planned fixtures that reside within two Scheels All Sports Superstores. The retail chain operates a network of 24 stores throughout the West and Midwest, enticing shoppers with a selection of sporting goods and sportswear, and a shopping experience they won’t find elsewhere.

“We did graphics for their NASCAR simulation area in some of the chain’s stores in the past,” says Todd Bringuet, Ace’s vice president. “That got them thinking about the possibilities of wrapping the cars on the ferris wheel in one of their new flagship stores.” Ace Sign (www.acesignco.com) was also conveniently situated near the site of the new Scheels store planned for Springfield, and the Jacksonville, Illinois-based Eli Bridge Company, builders of the ferris wheels.

Where feasible, the ferris wheels are the main attraction inside Scheels stores that are expansive enough to hold them. Towering as much as 80 feet above the sales floor, the ferris wheels are impossible to miss or ignore. With shoppers already looking up, Scheels’ executives reasoned, why not put the wheels to work for the company? That kind of thinking then evolved into plans to transform the passenger cars that ride the wheel into revolving signage.

In the pilot project for the new Springfield location, Scheels suppliers were offered the opportunity to sponsor individual cars as branding vehicles. Eli Bridge Company provided Ace Sign with graphics templates for the 21 cars, and design and delivery of the artwork was coordinated through Scheels’ marketing department. Some of the participating companies have included UPS, Champion, Adidas, Dansko, Coca-Cola, and North Face.

Print production was straightforward, says Bringuet. Graphics were printed onto Orafol’s Oracal adhesive-backed vinyl at 360 dpi with Ace Sign’s Mimaki JV3-SP160, then trimmed to match the templates. “The cars are about 4-feet wide by 2-feet tall. Basically we were wrapping two sides, the back, and the foot rest,” he says.

The installation was more challenging: “Some parts of the cars are smooth and flat, but we also had to work around a lot of hardware, especially on the sides,” Bringuet explains. “There’s a spider-like bracket and swivel there that proved interesting.” Compounding the difficulties was the fact that the seats were already installed, impinging on the work area.

Scheels officials were so pleased with the finished look on this “beta” ferris wheel that they decided to also wrap the wheel planned for their next store in Salt Lake City. This time, Bringuet and crew could draw on experience, for an easier install.

“On a scale of 1 to 10 for difficulty, the first ferris wheel we wrapped was probably an eight,” he says. “When we did the one for Salt Lake City, it was about a five. And we requested that we get the cars without the seats – that way there were less obstacles to deal with and the more challenging hardware was left off.”

For Ace Signs, a ferris-wheel wrap now seems almost routine, and Scheels already has plans for at least two more. As word spreads, and people become aware of how a ferris wheel – or for that matter any amusement-park attraction – can be transformed with digitally printed graphics, other orders could follow.

“A lot of times, when people see a project like this, it brings more business, directly or indirectly,” Bringuet notes. “It gets people to think outside the box, beyond the same old advertising opportunities and placement.”


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