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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: Faux Beer Cans on a Standee

My fiancee and I installed a standee this week for the movie That’s My Boy. It came with three or four beer cans.

A few years ago, while installing another standee, I thought I had seen everything when I opened the heavy standee box only to see a bag marked “bricks.” (They had been ballast for a Lazy-Susan type of rotating display stand.) But the beer cans really took the cake.

Interestingly enough, assembly instructions for the beer cans appeared in the four-page instruction manual. The text showed exactly how to twist them so they would look like the remains of a fraternity party. To keep them in place, each can had two strips of double-sided tape. The instructional print book showed exactly where to place them on the “lawn” portion of the standee.

How Is This Relevant to Custom Printing?

You might ask how this relates to commercial printing. I see two very direct connections.

First, if you looked closely, you could see that the faux beer cans were not metal. They were cardboard canisters with applique’s of a nondescript beer. Someone had printed and assembled cylinders, each with a top and bottom image and another image wrapped around and glued to the sides. The custom printing vendors had done a lot of work.

Why cardboard and not metal? I haven’t a clue, but here are some thoughts:

  1. Liability: If broken or torn apart, an aluminum beer can could have a jagged edge that might cause an accident. The movie studios, standee designers, and movie theaters increasingly attempt to avoid accidents to those who interact with standees, particularly as more physical materials are used in standees and as standees become more interactive.
  2. Sensitivity in Marketing: Perhaps the designer of this large format printing piece wanted to avoid promoting a particular beer (again for liability issues regarding product placement). Perhaps the studio wanted to avoid explicitly promoting beer to minors who might see the standee (after all, a cardboard beer can with a nondescript label glued to its surface can give the impression of a beer can without identifying a particular beer or any beer at all).
  3. Cost: Creating a fake beer can out of cardboard allowed the designers at the movie studio to avoid the need to have aluminum beer cans mocked up. Perhaps the cost to create simulated aluminum cans exceeded the (considerable, I would assume) cost to mock up a cardboard tube, print the beer can label in four colors on 80# or 100# enamel printing paper, and then, using hot-melt glue, affix the appliques onto the sides, top, and bottom of three cans per standee (multiplied by the majority of movie theaters in the country, presumably).

What About Your Large Format Printing Work?

What can we learn from this? First, consider multiple custom printing options and a variety of materials for your large format printing work. Cost is one factor. The number of copies you will need to produce as well as the accessibility of the particular materials are two more considerations. Talk with your commercial printing suppliers early. In fact, the more outlandish the project, the earlier you should start making physical mock-ups of the large format printing piece, and the sooner you should involve the printing suppliers.

Also Consider Shipping Logistics

When you create something as easily crushed as three beer cans, you need to consider shipping logistics. The standee company inserted all three cans in an additional carton within the main carton that contained the standee. Not to have done so might have compromised a lot of work and wasted a lot of money. So don’t just design a large format printing piece. Also think about how you will get it to it’s destination for assembly.

The Immersive Experience

As an aside, I want you to know how real these looked. The manager of the movie theater came into the room we were using to assemble the standee, and looked disgusted when he pointed at the beer cans and asked, “What are those?” Apparently he had thought we were drinking on the job.

Large format printing, as reflected in movie standees, is moving away from cardboard-only assemblages toward real-world objects. Over the last month I have assembled one standee with a metal street sign pole affixed to a base covered in simulated grass. I have also assembled two photo opportunity standees with fabric-covered chairs.

Anything that looks real captures the interest of the movie-goers and draws them into the fictional world of the movie (and the movie standee). I think it’s powerful marketing. I also think it is fascinating that this is happening at the same time as computer technology is embracing both virtual reality and augmented reality.

There is room for custom printing, it seems. However, to make offset and digital printing viable alternatives to entirely electronic media, it helps to accentuate the tactile qualities of print. After all, you cant touch anything on a computer screen.

2 Responses to “Large Format Printing: Faux Beer Cans on a Standee”

  1. Nice post. I’m impressed! Extremely useful. Thank you and best of luck.


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