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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Large Format Printing: An Immersive POP Display

I recently wrote about a standee installation involving a motorized cannon with moving animals sticking out of the cannon barrel. Motion added a fourth dimension—time–to an otherwise three-dimensional point of purchase display.

The next standee I installed with my fiancee, while not a moving structure, added yet another dimension to the marketing art of point of purchase large format printing—viewer immersion.

A Description of the Dark Shadows Standee

The Dark Shadows movie standee (which you can see at various movie theaters) comprises a theater simulation, with diecut characters positioned from the front to the back of the structure. They are of different dimensions, from large (in front) to small (in the back), giving a sense of depth (foreground and background) within the three dimensional environment. Most of the diecut figures are free-standing, supported by rolled corrugated board posts (like scarecrows on wooden sticks).

Slightly in front of all the other characters stands a diecut Johnny Depp image on a cardboard post positioned behind a chair.

Here’s the genius behind this large format printing display: It’s a photo booth.

Passersby sit in the chair (composed of criss-crossing layers of corrugated board within a box, to create a seat with an added back and over-stuffed arm rests—a veritable throne covered in velvet cloth). Family and friends can then take photos of the person sitting in the chair. From the vantage point of the camera, however, the person in the chair is surrounded by the ghoulish inhabitants of the Dark Shadows standee.

As with photos of individuals taken beside cardboard cutouts of President Obama (which often seem to be quite real), all the Dark Shadows characters seem to be as real as the person sitting in the chair.

Why the Standee is So Effective

From a marketing perspective, this standee works because the participant can step into the fictional world of the movie. It’s like Alice stepping through the looking glass into Wonderland. From the point of view of the digital camera, it’s total immersion, so the point of purchase display not only involves the participant in the present moment, but it also allows for a photographic record one can revisit in the future.

Bridging the Gap Between Old Media and New Media

In addition, the standee actually links the physical media and immersive experience to the newer digital media. That is, the large format printing display employs cross-channel marketing technology.

Specifically (and I’m not yet sure about the details), one can send photos taken with this point of purchase display to one or more websites (including Facebook, of course) to participate in a marketing initiative related to the movie.

Good marketing involves repeated messages and, with integrated marketing, it involves coordinated exposures through different media channels. This point of purchase display engages the participants (the chair is actually quite comfortable) and brings them into another world.

The Physical Dimensions as They Relate to Custom Printing

Here’s how it’s made:

  1. The entire back of the structure is made of corrugated board printed solely with black ink on the back and sides of the display. The way the ink came off onto my hands suggests flexographic printing: i.e., printing directly onto the box with ink and rubber press plates.
  2. The front of the amphitheater is made of multiple graphic panels stitched together with tabs and slots, or metal screws and nuts. The graphic panels are examples of offset custom printing on thick enamel press stock. It looks like the graphic panels are also coated with UV varnish, film laminate, or press varnish for gloss and protection.
  3. Within the top half of the structure is a small theater composed of a diecut front panel and a graphic printed back panel. Once attached to one side of the front panel of the small theater, the back panel is bowed, creating a small curved environment within an environment. Figures placed in this space are small. They appear to be far behind the foreground figures.
  4. The front-most figures are made of offset printed paper glued to corrugated board and then diecut. Their supports are flexographic printed flat sheets folded into four-sided posts.
  5. The chair has an intricate honey-comb structure of laminated pieces of corrugated board sitting within a box. This is to support the weight of the participant sitting in the chair. In an interactive point of purchase display, such physical requirements are important, both for the safety of the participant and the liability of the theater.
  6. Foam structures covered with red velvet comprise the arms, seat, and back of the chair, and printed graphic panels (offset custom printing on enamel paper glued to corrugated board) adorn the sides. Intricate, carved chair legs are composed of printed cover stock and corrugated board (assembled via tabs and slots into multi-faceted simulations of the wooden chair legs).

How You Can Incorporate Some of These Marketing Techniques Into Your Work

Here are some things you might learn from this point of purchase display and incorporate into your next large format printing item:

  1. Consider how you can involve the viewer in the experience. Can you make the display something he/she can touch and interact with?
  2. Can you incorporate other media, in addition to custom printing, into the experience (as the movie standee connects with a marketing website to which the participant can upload a photo of himself/herself)?
  3. Other than custom printing on cover stock; laminating it to chipboard or corrugated board; and using various diecuts, folds, and spot gluing techniques to create an environment; how can you bring other substances into the sculptural environment? Can you use wood, fabric, foam, or other materials to vary the tactile experience of the participants and make the environment more immersive and memorable?

2 Responses to “Large Format Printing: An Immersive POP Display”

  1. I saw this standee at the theater last month and it was really impressive work and a great application of large format printing. You guys really thought outside the box on this one! It was really interesting reading your post about how you created and constructed it, thanks for sharing your process, it gave me a lot of ideas.

    • admin says:

      Which standee did you see?

      As a printing broker and designer, I appreciate both the technical aspects and the aesthetic elements of a good standee. I also learn a lot about printing, design, and even physics and mechanics by observing how each one has been designed, with what materials and printing techniques, and how each one works as a promotional piece to capture the attention of moviegoers.

      If you work in the area of large-format printing, I can understand your appreciation for standees as well. Particularly as the designers begin to incorporate other materials than just paperboard into their pieces (such as synthetic grass, velvet, and wood), I would think there would be a wealth of novel ideas for you.

      Thank you for taking the time to write to the Printing Industry Exchange.


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