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Runnin’ Wide (Format) Open In NASCAR –Cagle

February 2011
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Gentlemen, start your wide-format inkjet printers!

The calendar says it's mid- February, and that means two things. One, pitchers and catchers report to Florida and Arizona for baseball's spring training. Two, gearheads unite as the sports world sets its attention to South Florida for the Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of NASCAR.

Yes, there is something truly wrong about a sport that opens its season with the equivalency of the championship game but, in racing, the season is laboriously long and (honestly) few people care about NASCAR in November, when Jimmie Johnson is crowned with title after title. So, opening day gets all of the attention; that's just as well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an anti-racing snob. I've followed the career of Jeff Gordon since he broke on the scene nearly 20 years ago. NASCAR is a sport that relies on the strong ties formed between its advertisers and fans, the latter of which are fiercely brand-loyal. And there are a number of ties between the printing community and NASCAR, particularly for manufacturers of wide-format printers.

Mutoh Industries, which manufactures piezoelectric printers, sponsors a pair of Rusty Wallace Racing (RWR) cars that compete in the Nationwide series. In 2010, those cars were driven by Steve Wallace—Rusty's son—and Brendan Gaughan. The accompanying photo above shows the RWR cars in action.

Last November, Mutoh treated some of its employees to the Phoenix race and provided them with pit passes. They had the opportunity to see the cars up close and admire the work performed by RWR's 64˝ Mutoh Valuejet 1614 printer.

Roland DGA also announced that it has been recognized as the exclusive printing manufacturer for Richard Childress Racing (RCR). Three of the contending 2010 Sprint Cup championship drivers—Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Boyer—are in the RCR stable.

Graphically, RCR uses Roland wide-format inkjet printers and cutters, including the Soljet Pro XC-540MT and the VersaCAMM VS. The gear is part of RCR's new Graphics Center in Welcome, NC, where Roland will participate in training classes, dealer meetings, product demonstrations and other events. The center produces, among other things, wraps for RCR's inventory of racing cars, trucks, show cars and delivery vehicles.

There have been a number of printing-related companies that have provided sponsorships to NASCAR drivers over the years. Denny Hamlin finished second behind Jimmie Johnson for the Sprint Cup title while driving the No. 11 FedEx Express (Kinko's). Kodak has sponsored a number of drivers over the years, including Ryan Newman. Paul Menard has enjoyed the backing of Vertis Communications, and various paper companies (Georgia-Pacific, Mead Corp./NewPage) have attached their names to these high-flying machines.

And let us not forget my man Gordon, long known for his DuPont sponsorship. His team earned the nickname Rainbow Warriors with its proficiency and success, not to mention the colorful paint schemes on his Chevy. However, DuPont is dialing back to partial sponsorship status this season.

It's been said that a mere few seconds of TV time that shows a particular driver (and his sponsor) is worth millions from a marketing standpoint. So, can the Transcontinental Toyota or the Cenveo Chevy be far behind?

TAKING A STAND: Print and document management services provider CCI/CoakleyTech is officially a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact. Founded by the UN in 2000, the Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are "committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption," according to the Hartland, WI-based printer.

"We're honored to sign on to these 10 principles and pledge our support to continue forwarding the Global Compact and to engage in collaborative projects that advance the broader development goals of the United Nations," says CCI President and CEO Chris Illman.

TURN THE PAGE: A quick thank you and shout out to RR Donnelley's Philip Brown, a senior veep with the firm's Response Marketing Services, who sent along a personalized 2011 desk calendar. And, I would like to also acknowledge all of the printers and manufacturers who mailed Christmas cards, too numerous to mention.

Perhaps the increase in holiday well-wishes is another key indicator of improvement in the printing industry. Someone, get NAPL's Andy Paparozzi on the phone!

To echo Mr. Brown's sentiment, may 2011 be prosperous for us all. And that includes NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. PI

—Erik Cagle



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