By Claire West

It’s dynamic, it delivers a powerful and often stunning message, and it saves money – three key qualities that are making the use of vehicle ‘wrapping’ an increasingly popular marketing tool for businesses right across the UK.

Already some of the country’s major brand names have adopted the wrapping technique, best described as completely covering the paintwork of a vehicle in printed vinyl, to give their vehicle fleets more impact on the High Street. As a result, vehicle wrapping is one of the fastest emerging markets in the sign & graphics industry.

In the past few months, the UK’s market leader, Totally Dynamic, has transformed everything from the huge race transporter for Dixon Yamaha World Championship Motorcross Racing Team, to a mobile support unit being used to help promote collaboration between Renfrewshire Council and Strathclyde Police to help reduce youth crime, to Nike Golf’s European Tour vehicle and a double-decker bus for Liverpool FC, along with other buses used to promote the city’s 2008 City of Culture celebrations.

Totally Dynamic’s Marketing Manager Jennifer Rope says business this year is expected to boom, as companies look to optimise their marketing spend, especially across an economy which could be set to slow.

“Vehicle advertising and branding isn’t new – it’s been around for many years. But more and more companies are starting to realise that carefully and professionally designed branding of this kind can make a huge impact, and that’s where vehicle ‘wrapping’ comes into its own,” says Ms. Rope.

So what is wrapping, and what makes it so different from what we have seen on the sides of vans and lorries for years? Vehicle wrapping applies pre-printed vinyl film to the surface of a vehicle, either in full or in part. In its simplest form it can change the base colour of a vehicle from black to white or green to bubblegum pink, but more commonly it is used by companies as a means of displaying their products and services on their vehicles, using eye-catching designs and full colour images.

Wrapping’s real beauty, however, is that photographic quality images can be used, giving endless opportunities to enhance the impact that vehicle advertising can have. The wrapping film is printed using wide format printers, and once applied can be left on the vehicle for up to five years if required – providing the original paintwork with a protective surface against minor scratches and stone-chips.

From a marketing perspective, common sense tells us that, on average, a busy vehicle will be seen by many hundreds of people every hour. This point alone, says Ms. Rope, shows what an innovative and highly effective method of advertising it can be.

“The wraps educate, entertain and inform motorists and pedestrians while they are commuting. They can reach consumers in conditions that radio, television and print are ineffective and they are appreciated for their ability to humour motorists and pedestrians as well as alleviate boredom when stuck in traffic. Most importantly, ‘wraps’ are one of the only forms of advertising that cannot be switched off, tuned out or lost in a quicksand of other advertisements,” she adds.

“The techniques we use can provide stunning effects, which leave a lasting impression if they are done creatively. And when the economics of wrapping are taken into account, then it is a very sensible marketing spend indeed.”

She points out that in a typical regional daily newspaper, a 100mmx 65mm colour ad on the front page could cost around £450 for one insertion. Even inside the paper a small ad would cost around £300 for only one day. In contrast, a full colour vehicle ‘wrap’ on an average size car, including design, production and installation, costs from £1500 and will last for 3-5 years.

“Traditional advertising, such as newspapers, can be expensive and has a very limited shelf-life. You need to spend an awful lot of money to make a real impact using this medium. A good quality vehicle wrap can last between 3 to 5 years – think how many business miles you will travel in that time and how many people will see your mobile advertisement,” says Ms Rope. In addition, wrapping protects paintwork against stone chips and minor abrasions, so can also extend the lifetime of a car or van.

And while traditional hand-painted graphics can look great, when it comes to selling a vehicle, customers often need to pay for expensive re-sprays. “If your vehicle is wrapped and you want to sell it, simply remove the vinyl and restore the vehicle to its original colour. If you change your company branding, develop a new advertising message or simply want to freshen up your ageing vehicles a new design can be applied to totally, and cost effectively, update the vehicle.”

Totally Dynamic was founded in 2005 by one of the UK sign and graphic industry’s most respected providers of large format digital print – Dynamic Digital Imaging (DDI), which has been in business for 17 years.

Its offshoot, Totally Dynamic, is now the UK’s first dedicated vehicle wrapping franchise and the first to be recognised by the British Franchise Association . As a franchise operation it benefits from a network of local experts who work closely with their customers and yet have the backing of technical expertise and buying power. All of its six installation centres benefit from ongoing training and access to the latest developments in vehicle wrapping.

Totally Dynamics’ recent clients are certainly impressed by the results. Elizabeth Wray, waste services project officer for York Council says: “The brief was to wrap our new York Council recycling wagon, in addition to a Fiesta van to be used on a daily basis as a promotional vehicle for events, schools and appearances. The design for both vehicles was bright and bold, portraying the recycling message whilst the recycling vehicle carried out collections.

“The project was challenging due to the large size and awkward shapes involved with the recycling wagon. We’re thrilled with the final result and commissioned Totally Dynamic to wrap four other kerbside re-cycling vehicles. All of our wrapped vehicles are a sight to be seen on the streets of York and we have received positive comments about the fantastic form of message communication. They are incredibly easy to keep clean and have not lost any of their shine – when we run our fingers over the wrap it just feels like the original paintwork.”

Jonathan Loosemore, European Tour Director at golf products giant Titleist, is another enthusiastic convert: “Our project was to wrap our Titleist Tour Support Vehicle, and given its size (it incorporates an office, workshop, hospitality vehicle and promotional centre, it literally houses all we need under one roof) that was quite a challenge.

“I have to admit to being taken aback by the finished article. Regarding past experiences of using vehicle graphics on the TTSV, we quickly realised that we needed a far superior vinyl finish that would also protect the vehicle against stone chips. The new TTSV is very striking and a highly visible promotional tool. At each event we attend with it, we have a selection of golf fans keen to record its brilliance on camera as they enjoy having their picture taken next to it. Our driver also reports frequent flashes and hoots of approval whilst on the road.”

Another high-profile client is media firm Sony BMG, which appointed Totally Dynamic to wrap its promotional VW Caravelle vehicle. Renaldo ‘Redz’ Larose, head of Sony BMG Street Promotions, says: “We are thrilled. The vehicle wrapping on the Caravelle has been brilliant and all at a great price. We have the vehicle completely re-wrapped every six months to a year with part update wraps every three to four months.”

Totally Dynamic received the accolade ‘Most Creative Exhibition Stand’ at the Franchise Marketing Awards 2007 and its North London centre was short-listed in the 2007 Business Start-Up awards in the Franchisee of the Year category. The company is now the most widely-located vehicle wrapping service in the UK, with six centres, the most recent of which opened in July last year at the Wardpark Industrial Estate in Cumbernauld near Glasgow.

To help promote its services – which are specialist and require high levels of training – one innovative development has seen Totally Dynamic holding vehicle graphic design master classes aimed at design agencies. Its Cumbernauld centre manager Adam Sharpe explains: “They have been formulated to help designers from all walks of life set up artwork for vehicle wraps.

“In our experience many designers are used to only working on small-format projects, so we have developed the master class to offer vital tips and tricks to ensure artwork is submitted correctly, therefore saving time and money.”

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