BC Ferries Ship Wrap Promotes 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
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BC Ferries Ship Wrap Promotes 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Three brand new 160-meter Super-C class ships were wrapped with the mega-sized photographic images and branding colors representing the 2010 Winter Games and the beauty of British Columbia.

By Jennifer LeClaire

In one of the most massive vinyl wraps to date, three new BC Ferries were decorated with a massive invitation to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

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  • 3M Canada and VANOC, the organization responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010, worked with BC Ferries to design and create the giant decals, which will go down in history as the largest-ever marine application of printed graphics.

    "3M is providing the canvas to help showcase the natural beauty of B.C. and the artistry of Olympic performances to the world," says Richard Chartrand, executive director of Display and Graphics for 3M Canada. "If a picture is truly worth a thousand words then visitors to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver can expect to be treated to a storybook event."

    A Maritime Wrap
    The notion for a maritime wrap came from Mark Stefanson, vice president of public affairs for BC Ferries. He had seen wrap technology developing and thought wrapping the side of BC Ferries was a bold move that would get attention for all parties. The province of British Columbia and the 2010 organizing committee embraced the idea as a strategic promotional opportunity.

    "We worked with the design company to come up with the best selection of photographs for the wrap," Stefansson says. "We needed a stunning representation of both the games and the province. We also needed to make sure the photographs were of such a high resolution that when they were blown up to this magnitude they would not become grainy. Each vessel has four different photographs."

    The decals were produced in Vancouver and applied at the shipyard in Germany. Each ship prominently features four full-color images promoting British Columbia and winter sport through the depiction of Canadian winter athletes and VANOC's signature brand blue and green palate. Specifically, the ship's promotional images feature short track speed skating at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, men's alpine skiing at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, vineyards near Vaseux Lake in the Okanagan, and Nabob Pass situated in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region of British Columbia.

    The floating advertising billboards were wrapped in large-format Scotchprint Graphics from 3M. The surface that was covered with inkjet printed vinyl graphics on both sides of the ship's hulls, was over 10 meters in height and 152 meters in length, according to 3M. Nearly 7,000 square meters of Scotchprint Graphics were used for all three vessels. "The ships carry the images until after the 2010 Games when they will be re-painted as part of their normal re-fit," says David Hahn, president of BC Ferries. "The company couldn't afford a sponsorship with VANOC but wanted to promote the Games, so it offered the vessels to VANOC for promotional purposes. I see this as pure marketing."

    A Straightforward Approach
    Once the imagery was selected and printed, ORCA Maritime took on the task of wrapping the ferries. ORCA Maritime has been doing megawraps for more than 15 years. In fact, the company is a market leader in marine wraps for signs and graphics. Manfred Hack of ORCA Maritime says there is no special vinyl film needed to wrap ships, other than being UV resistant. His company uses 9800 HT ORCA Offshore Film, which is an anti-corrosion film that ship owners often use instead of topcoat paints because it helps preserve marine structures. The film adheres to the steel and keeps water and chlorides from seeping beneath. But for this project, the company used 3M Scotchcal film.

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    Hack prepared for the megawrap by gathering tools, which included a felt squeegee, cutter knifes, masking tape, high pressure water jet, some alcohol, soapwater and rags for cleaning the surface, and a cherry picker for access to the taller areas of the ship. Hack says it took a team of about 24 people to wrap the three ferries, including one project manager and three or four teams of two vinyl installers to work on different areas of the ships.

    "First, we washed down the ferries with a high pressure water jet and degreaser. But it was easy for these ships as the top coating was fresh paint. The only thing we had to pay attention to was that the paint was fully hardened and degassed," Hack says. "Then, we set up a base line for the first panel, and applied the film according to the application line. We applied the vinyl on the vessel simultaneously from mid-ship to bow and stern on each side of the ship. After we finished, we did the sealing of all overlaps, even inside the graphics."

    Maritime Challenges
    Hack says the biggest challenge wrapping the three ferries was to finish the job in time. The teams of vinyl installers could only work according to the shipyard's production line. On many days, he says, the teams had no access to the application areas, but they had to standby just in case access opened up.

    "Another challenge was the weather-temperature, humidity and wind," Hack says. "This Flensburg region up in Northern Germany is well known for rain and strong winds and cold temperatures. But despite all of this, we managed to complete all three vessels prior to departure."

    As Hack sees it, insufficient preparation of the surface and sealing and wrong kind of film are the biggest mistakes installers can make with a ship wrap-or any wrap. But on the BC Ferries project, he learned that you always have less time for the application than expected and promised. His new strategy: speed up the vinyl application process whenever you can get access. Time is of the essence.

    "For a job this huge, you need really skilled applicators-fast and hard workers that can work 10 to 12 hours a day, people who are ready for overtime and weekend work," Hack says. "Of course, you need applicators who really love this work and their job. You need good teams and an absolutely qualified and well organized project manager to run a job of this size."

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