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Size matters to poster boys

Supersized posters reap benefits for newspaper printers. Mark Hargreaves reports on two press plant initiatives 

TRADITIONALLY, newspaper printing presses have been just that – presses designed with the sole purpose of producing newspapers. However, in the face of difficult and turbulent times, some forward thinking newspaper publishers and printers have looked to see how their presses might be put to greater and more creative commercial use. A handful of pioneering newspaper printers have successfully turned to producing XXL posters from their presses to boost their revenue and increase their business.Early in 2012, XXL posters were introduced by Trinity Mirror Printing Midlands. Less than 12 months later, 40 different posters have been printed, totalling 2.5 million copies and, importantly, generating in excess of £120K of revenue.

Nick Cahm, production manager at Trinity Mirror Printing Midlands, says: “It was lateral thinking coupled with technological advances which led to the successful development of the posters. “In 2011, in order to produce a glued, quarterfold product, we installed a Robatech gluing system. During a visit to drupa 2012, Alex Henderson, general manager of TMP Midlands & Cardiff, saw an example of a glued broadsheet product and immediately saw an exciting development opportunity.”

Working with TMP’s technical experts and then the BPM Media Studio team, the potential for this new product was seen and a mock-up XXL poster was produced and successfully printed.

As with many new ideas, take up for the posters was initially quite slow. However, with major brands like Asda, DFS and B&Q running small trials which soon resulted in bigger orders, the volumes for the posters snowballed.

Cahm continues: “Once design agencies became aware of the exciting opportunities opened up with these posters, their imaginations have run riot and there have been some superb examples of how to maximise the impact of the format.”

The poster printed for Chester Zoo (above) is just one example of the huge impact you can make with XXL posters. “This is by no means the only or last innovation that can be produced on our presses. It takes vision on our part as well as customers to bring a new, successful product to market. There are plenty of other innovations and we will be striving to make the most of any opportunities to diversify.”

Another newspaper printer which has recognised the potential of supersized posters as a value-added product is Webprint in Ireland. Head of operations Michael O’Brien says: “We had installed a Robatech Gluing Technology system for applying spine glue to A5 booklets. By repositioning the brackets and applying glue at different points, we came up with a completely different product which we’ve called a ‘double poster’. “The key to the success of our poster is that we’re gluing on the press and inline trimming and quarter folding in the mailroom. This allows us to produce an endorsed folded and trimmed finished size, in one pass, which still opens out to a four broadsheet wide finished product.”

One of the first commercial applications of the poster has been for Stephen Pearce Pottery based in County Cork.

Webprint had been supplying the pottery with white newsprint waste which is stripped from paper reels which they use as a packaging material. They approached Webprint to help them develop printed advertising material for an international exhibition.

Stephen Pearce of Stephen Pearce Pottery says: “The innovative design possibilities presented by Webprint offered us a chance to think outside the box when it came time to produce our brochure for the 2013 Spring Fair.“

The double panoramic poster was a very cost effective solution that also attracted us due to the recycled nature of newspapers and the qualities of the newsprint itself, which for us complemented our handmade pottery and conveyed the tactile nature of our product.

Webprint staff with Stephen Pearce Pottery poster

“In designing for the brochure we started with the idea of ‘unfolding to discover more’. The layout of the brochure gave us the unique opportunity of using very large images to great effect and ultimately gave us the chance to present a comprehensive catalogue of our products in one view.“

At the Spring Fair our brochure was met with great curiosity and delight by visitors to our stand and we’ve now also included it in all of our wholesale and retail orders worldwide. We’re already looking forward to our next printing project with Webprint.”

O’Brien thinks that this type of innovative thinking and technology is key to the future success of Webprint. “Our printing press originally just printed newspapers. But with R&D and capital investment over the last few years we have now moved into the commercial high volume space. We have a range of other innovations including compact newspapers/ booklets and high volume coldest leaflets. What this space.”

As both these major newspaper organisations have proved, a bit of lateral thinking ‘outside the box’ can reap great rewards. “Anything that increases business is good, especially making use of available press time to produce less time-sensitive products.“

This is a great example of how innovation coupled with a product that is unusual and eye-catching can create opportunities to maximise equipment utilisation,” concludes Cahm.

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