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Vertis Scores Big on Turn (Two) Times —Cagle

September 2008
EVER SAT down to watch a NASCAR event? Many people can’t bear the thought of watching cars going around and around in a circle, as the criticism goes, and often the weekly race is about as exciting as watching freeway traffic. But for those who enjoy the pit strategy—such as the nuances of how to garner the slightest increase in horsepower—and feed off the melodrama that ensues when drivers invariably aggravate their fellow competitors by cutting them off, it’s a nice way to burn four hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Even if you don’t care to watch auto racing and scoff at the idea of drivers being called athletes, there’s still no denying NASCAR’s influence as a marketing channel. The fan base is fiercely loyal to brands associated with their drivers, particularly the primary sponsor (that big, cheesy decal on the car hood), and marketing gurus—along with those people leading the Obama and McCain campaigns—officially recognize a segment of consumers as “NASCAR fans.”

In terms of primary sponsorship, the graphic arts realm is amply represented: Denny Hamlin drives the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, Jeff Gordon helms the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, and Kodak has a co-sponsorship pact with Ryan Newman’s No. 12 Dodge. Georgia-Pacific and NewPage—and before its rechristening, Mead Corp.—are among the many consumables providers that have sponsored cars to varying degrees.

But discounting FedEx Office—since FedEx serves different functions, the primary being parcel delivery—is there a true printer out there that sponsors a NASCAR performer?

The answer is yes. The logo of Vertis Communications, through its print program with Midwestern home improvement center Menard’s, can occasionally be seen on the No. 15 Chevy Impala of Paul Menard. The home improvement store is the primary sponsor of the car.

But during the July 4th weekend race at Daytona International Speedway, Menard did the Baltimore-based printer proud by capturing the pole position for the race, then led 19 laps before finishing a respectable 15th. During a sequence of pit stops, television cameras lingered on the hood of the car, its red Vertis lettering and logo beaming brightly against the yellow background.

Fans of the sport may recall Dale Earnhardt Jr. flying the Vertis logo in the past. Earnhardt Jr. formerly drove for DEI, the racing team founded by his late father.

“I would not position it as a strategic advertising campaign or investment by any stretch,” notes Kelly Hamour of Formula PR, which represents Vertis. But if you do want to gain marketing exposure, there are few better channels than the weekly racing venues that attract 100,000-plus people in person and countless millions more on television.

THAT’S PLAIN NASTY: A brief noted that the UK adult exhibition Erotica cut ticket printing costs for 80,000 visitors. Apparently, the show was dogged by long lines of people who hadn’t pre-booked (about 50,000 of them). Toshiba came to the rescue with a printer that uses Avapac software, which helped churn out the pervert passes in record time.

Perhaps the best line in the write- up came from the show’s planning manager, who said that the “quality and professional look of the tickets were perfect for the image of the Erotica.” Yes, we all know how discriminating pornographic aficionados can be, especially those wearing hats, glasses and huge overcoats so that they can ogle nude, young women without being spotted.

Whoever’s handling marketing for Toshiba in the UK ought to be sacked. This is, without a doubt, the worst case study ever written.

SPEAKING OF PORN: If you think commercial printers have it rough, how about in-plants? Many of them face extinction from their parent companies, which sometimes view having an in-house print shop as a nuisance, a fiscal liability that can’t be justified. Then there are those shops who give in-plants—and all printers—a bad name.

Not long ago, WTVR-TV CBS 6 in Richmond, VA, reported that several employees of the City of Richmond in-plant spent much of their time surfing the Internet, including online dating and pornographic sites, instead of tending to printing needs. This came to light following an investigation by the city auditor. The reason for all of this inactivity? Much of the city’s printing needs are handled by outside printers—that’s you, gentle readers—because they can turnaround the jobs quicker and cheaper. That leaves workers with idle hands which, as you know, are the devil’s tools.

The CBS affiliate reported jobs costing two to three times the amount of a traditional printer when done by this in-plant, bringing the cost effectiveness of the operation into question and ripping off Richmond taxpayers. At the very least, this in-plant will see its ranks reduced, if it manages to avoid the chopping block. PI

—Erik Cagle


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