Discover the challenges of wrapping a monumental can — and keeping it realistic from top to bottom.
How would you go about wrapping a beer can so big that Paul Bunyan would have had to use two hands to slug it down? Impossible?
Not according to Avery Dennison Graphics and the wide-format graphics designers at Road Rage Designs. According to these companies, it was far easier than you might think. It merely required the proper preparation, materials and plenty of creative thinking.
“This was probably the quickest install we ever had,” says Kris Harris, vice president of Spring Grove, Ill.-based Road Rage Designs, the graphics firm who successfully wrapped the giant can. “I was really surprised but once the first sheet went down it really went quickly. The key was in the preparation.”
Origins of a giant beer can
Dave Leach, a Chicago-based collector of “world’s largest” items, commissioned this unusual vinyl wrap job. Leach wanted to honor his dad’s favorite brew – Old Style Beer, originally brewed by G. Heileman Brewing Company and now owned by Pabst.
The can, originally built by the Coca-Cola Company to promote its Full Throttle energy drink, is actually a steel drain tube with fiberglass installed on both ends. Before transforming the can into the Old World replica, repairs were needed.
First, the black finish that characterizes the Full Throttle can was stripped and the oversized can was repainted silver. Next, the can was shot with clear coat to make the surface smooth enough to allow for good adhesion. Leach completed those repairs before turning the can over to Road Rage for the graphics and vinyl work.
Road Rage also needed cooperation the brewer and they got it. Pabst supplied the oldest graphics available in digital format, circa 1970, and all PMS colors were matched to keep the design true to the original. The graphics work took about five hours because the design needed to be vectorized. In fact, Harris says, that turned out to be the hardest part of the job.
“I went next door and bought a can of Old Style. Then I came back to the shop and held the beer can right up next to the giant can,” Harris says. “I rotated the can until I could figure out where the label would look the most realistic. Then I went back to my computer and moved the label up and down on the templates to make sure that it would fit right and at the right perspective.”
Choosing the right materials
After the dimensions were set, the panels were printed and allowed to set for 24 hours to allow time to off-gas. The 1970s Old Style graphics were printed on Avery Graphics MPI 1007 EZ and DOL 1000 products, known for their ease in application and color-enhancing overlaminate.
“We chose Avery Graphics MPI 1007 EZ RS vinyl for this unique opportunity because it is easy to work with and the overlaminate really made the colors in the graphics pop on such a large scale application,” Harris says.
The result was a remarkably slick, classic, albeit giant, Old Style beer can. Indeed, the only aspect of the design that differs from the real beer can is the missing barcode.
Other than that, the can is an exact replica, complete with a serial number. The can even sports the words “12 fluid ounces” on the label. The bottom actually looks like the bottom of a beer can – with the same font you would find there. The date reads May 28, 2008 to signify the date of production, along with the installer’s Web address.
“The most surprising thing is, it really looks like a beer can,” Harris says. “It’s unbelievable! It looks like a big, humongous can of Old Style. It even has the little pop-top on and everything. It’s amazing!”
Behind the wrapping scenes at Road Rage
“Five hours is what I put into the art work. After that, the two guys installed it in three hours,” Harris says. “That’s only six man hours to do the install. That really was the easiest part.”
Harris outlined the vinyl wrapping process this way: Road Rage prepped the can by washing it down with brushes and soap. Next, they wiped it down with rubbing alcohol to create a smooth surface, free of grease, dust and debris. The can was wrapped horizontally, rather than vertically, using seven individually printed panels on Avery’s MPI 1007 EZ.
Joel Ross, the marketing communication manager for Avery Dennison Graphics and Reflective Products Division, says, “Our vinyl products are easy to position and easy to remove. They make the perfect wrap for everything from a classic vintage car to the World’s Largest Beer Can.”
The giant can had nothing on it to interfere with or slow application – no rivets or seams – so it was a matter of positioning the first panel correctly and then following that lead. After the can was wrapped, it was laminated with Avery’s DOL overlaminate and trimmed off.
An attention-getting job
Road Rage’s job may not be done yet. This giant can may be used for various promotions in the future. Harris does not anticipate any problem applying a temporary wrap over the can and then removing it afterward, or with removing the vinyl should its owners decide to use the can for a new promotion. The surface should stay clean and smooth.
The whole project took less than a week. Harris says it was nice to have the beer can outside their business during that time. People stopped by almost as if it was a tourist attraction. The distinctive gold, royal blue and red design and enormous size make this remarkable piece of promotional art a real eye-catcher.
“People actually wanted to have their picture taken with the beer can,” Harris laughs. “The attention has been great. I have actually gotten phone calls from England about it and it’s been on the news. It’s been on four or five TV stations in Chicago and Milwaukee. So it’s just really been fun!”
As seen on signindustry.com