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How to wrap a snowman

Photo courtesy Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Photo courtesy Crispin Porter + Bogusky

By Peter Saunders
For a new winter campaign in 2012, Tourism Toronto recently commissioned the Torontoland Snowmen, a series of 20 unique fibreglass objets d’art, which were wrapped with digitally printed graphics specially designed by local and international artists and then installed throughout the city. It proved a novel way to the non-profit marketing organization to spread the festive spirit in a form that was highly visible to the public.

“This is the fifth year of tourism campaigns designed to motivate other Ontarians to visit the city for the pre-holiday period,” explains Cheryl McKenzie, account director at the Toronto office of ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), which oversaw the undertaking.

The outdoor art project was tied to charitable donations. Every time a visitor uploaded a photo or video of one of the snowmen to a dedicated Facebook page, $2 was given to the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada, which provides education, entertainment and family activities for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and life-altering injuries.

To wrap flat graphics around the snowmen’s unusual curvature, the base panels were printed like strips of an orange’s peel. Photos courtesy Ampco Grafix

To wrap flat graphics around the snowmen’s unusual curvature, the base panels were printed like strips of an orange’s peel. Photos courtesy Ampco Grafix

Concept to production
Planning began in July 2011, with the involvement of Toronto’s business improvement areas (BIAs) and tourism attractions, which sponsored snowmen at their locations. CP+B reached out to Lunch, a network of creative professionals, to curate the program. This in turn involved working with Narwhal Art Projects, selecting which specific artists would participate and commissioning their work.

Also, following a request for proposals (RFP), integrated agency Smak was chosen to manage the production of the snowmen. This entailed turning the artists’ original designs into computer files, in either Adobe Photoshop Document (.psd) or Adobe Illustrator (.ai) format.

The snowmen and their graphics were then produced by Ampco Grafix in Coquitlam, B.C.

“Although they were outside the local market, of the suppliers we contacted, Ampco was the only one that could deliver what the campaign required, within the budget and timeline,” says Jeff Perry, a partner at Smak.

Additional graphic files were printed for special features, such as eyes.

Additional graphic files were printed for special features, such as eyes.

The production job was challenging, as new templates needed to be created for printing, cutting and installing the two-dimensional (2-D) graphics on the three-dimensional (3-D) fibreglass figures.

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“There was no computer-aided design (CAD) file or technical drawing developed for manufacturing the snowmen,” says Paul Bishop, a corporate account executive for Ampco. “Our engineers had to measure and calculate their surface area. These measurements were then used to create 16 section templates for each tier.”

Each snowman is more than 2.1 m (7 ft) tall and consists of three tiers, which are not perfectly spherical. So, the templates had to accommodate some flexibility to allow the graphic panels to fit the unusual curvature of the body shape.