How award-winning print is made

It is all very well to make a brilliant piece of print that wows your peers and wins awards, but if your clients do not get the results they are looking for it will be looked upon as a failure by those paying for it, and they might not come back again. To create a product that is both effective and beautiful, printers are increasingly working hand in hand with their clients on innovative designs.

One example is Melbourne printer McKellar Renown, which has for several years produced a welcome book given to customers and potential customers of BMW. It combines print and digital technology to drive brand awareness and customer retention, and it won the Fuji Xerox Effectiveness Award at this year’s National Print Awards for its consistent success.

“BMW wanted something that would connect new customers to the BMW experience, even when they’re not behind the wheel of the new car they’ve just purchased,” McKellar Renown co-general manager Chris Norgate says. “The piece also needed to generate a relationship between the buyer and their dealer. The idea was to give them a warm fuzzy feeling that wouldn’t feel like they were being sold or advertised to, but would help turn them into ‘sticky’ customers who would buy again. The book is a big part of BMW’s tangible marketing.”

The design process took three months before the first sheet was printed. “It was a completely collaborative process between us and agency One20 to understanding the ‘end game’ of the design,” Norgate says. “We brainstormed ideas with different substrates, and undertook a number of ‘proof of concept’ trials to demonstrate that the client’s choice of processes would reach their expectations and achieve their outcomes. It was one of the biggest collaborations we have ever done as it was completely from the ground up.”

The end result was a 48-page PUR perfect bound book with a double cover and personalised slip covers for some copies. Inside, the pages were made from four stocks of differing weights and 17 of them had unique embellishments. Printing the job took one and half months, using a Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 CD6, a Fuji Xerox Colour 1000 and xmpie variable data software, split into two weeks each of printing , embellishment, and collating, binding and trimming. All the processes were run concurrently, part delivering embellishments so that sections could be collated and bound while the rest of the embellishments were completed. The print and processes used make the book very immersive,” Norgate says. “Reading it is a tactile experience that encourages you to spend time with it and connect with the messages it is conveying.”

Norgate says while there was some generous preproduction time as the job was so complex, it still had commercial imperatives that made meeting deadline a big effort. “It had to be in market by a certain date and turnaround as always, was very lean. So as with getting the product out was an all hands on deck situation and turnarounds were achieved by some keen planning and scheduling,” he says. “Asides from the complexity of juggling so many processes, other challenges included the design using fine borders on pages that needed to be kept perfectly even, and some spreads involving keeping up to 5 processes in perfect register with one another.”

While this was a complicated, bespoke job all by itself, what made it award winning was the integration of five augmented reality (AR) spreads that made the images come to life on a customer’s mobile phone once they downloaded an app from BMW. On one page, the smartphone would vibrate along with the rumbling of the engine in the video content. On other pages, a 3D model will appear on top of the page and the customer can set the book down and walk around it, zooming in by moving closer and further away, as if the model car were there in reality. Another page has a car driving across it, sweeping the content away with it.

“Augmented reality is a great example of print and digital content working together and enriching one another,” Norgate says. “It is an experience that couldn’t be provided by either technology on its own. The AR technology also allows the interactions with the piece to be measured by the client, which is a huge advantage for the printed medium. This combination of tactile print, adventurous design and AR makes for an immersive and fresh experience that gives a wow every time you turn the page.”

Four and a half months later, the job arrived at the client and was being distributed to customers all over the country. BMW were thrilled with the result and while they are unwilling to tip their hand as to how many customers downloaded the app, viewed the video content or were more likely to buy another car, One20 told ProPrint it was a hit. “The job has exceeded our expectations and set the standard for our client’s printed communications across the board,” senior project manager Brendan Hanrahan says. “Experimenting with different stocks, thicknesses, printing techniques and finishes allowed us to best convey our clients brand and foresight.”

Fuji Xerox, in its judging of both how skilfully the job had been printed and also its role in achieving the client’s goals and making a real business impact, agreed. “McKeller Renown stood out over the other entries because it encompassed both quality and innovative use of technology while still achieving the objectives of their end client,” marketing manager Aline Schneider says.

“The entry showcased a complete mastery of digital printing techniques to create a unique final product which resonated with the audience. McKeller Renown also demonstrated a solid understanding of their end customers business objectives and success metrics, and how they can play a pivotal role in helping them achieve this to make a real business impact.”

“They showed true innovation and were able to amplify the value and results delivered by print with the use of augmented reality and personalisation and tactile embellishments that allowed the reader to interact with the piece and become immersed in the story, providing a truly imaginative and effective print product.”

While Norgate is proud of how his company pulled together to create an award-winning job that impressed both his client and peers, he says having clients like these that believe in the power of print and are prepared to experiment and spend a bit more money and time for more reward are critical to innovative jobs happening at all.

“Collaboration gives the piece synergy. I think the most effective print communications have design that makes the print more effective and print that makes the design more effective,” he says. “It is a sort of symbiosis where the total effect is greater than the sum of its parts. As collaborators I think we can cultivate that adventurousness in our clients too.

“It was excellent to see the National Print Awards and Fuji Xerox recognise something that is forward thinking and bit ‘out of the box’, and I think the piece says some pretty interesting things about the ways print will communicate in the future.”

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