research and development

Engaging Consumers: Large Format Interactive Print Media

I recently stumbled across this print ad:

Engaging Consumers: Large Format Interactive Print Media

It’s unique in that the creator, Ogilvy Brasil, embedded salt particles into the ad’s paper. This change in thought – the alteration in creativity – produced an interactive print advertisement. The final product is one to file under “useful print advertising” – readers are instructed to soak the ad in water, wrap it around a beer and stick it in the freezer. The beer will be chilled in half the time it normally takes thanks to the second largest advertising agency in Brazil’s ingenious thinking. 

And just like that, I want a Glacial Beer…

Not only did this get me thinking about a good brew, this small two-page magazine spread also sparked thought about innovation in large format printing. It’s no secret that the research and development process is an important step in the printing world. However, many designers and development teams disregard the process as too costly or time consuming.

Perhaps it’s your 2017 business resolution: you’ll capture the attention of your audience with your print media. Maybe you’re experiencing competition from the business next door. Whatever the case may be, if you’re serious about drawing customers into your goods or services, it is a must to have a conversation with a research and development team about interactive print media.

When you’re not immersed in the world of print, you might think that a banner or sign will do. I can attest from experience that when companies want to draw attention to their brand, they will use interactive print media or signs with substance (think large format printing.)

At Custom Color, we combine both interactive print media and substance to create cost-effective solutions to print problems. As a researcher and developer, I have created products that not only attract the eyes, but also appeal to the senses.

Tower of Power:

These branding cubes capture attention with height and messaging. Each side of the tower features its own message and focuses on different products; this encourages consumers to walk around the display to see the different offerings. Adding baskets of products directly onto the display can transform the blocks from an informative piece into a point-of-purchase display.


Wheel of Choices:

Upselling has never been so easy. With cost-effective construction and interaction in mind, the wheel of choices was born. This spinning interactive wheel suggests drinks based on sandwich offerings, and vise versa. This b-flute print product focuses on the consumer’s buying journey. Pancakes and chocolate milk, anyone?

Musical Flooring:


Combining print with other sensory-engaging methods is another way to guarantee a memorable experience. Recently we worked with Graphic Image Flooring to produce G-Floor for the Miami Children’s Museum – after install, the G-Floor has transformed into a surface for interaction. Weight-activated technology triggers sound and light to play music and illuminate the surface of the flooring. Brainstorming the combination of medias is one thing that we do best.

When making your print plans for the upcoming year, remember that interactive large format printing is a trend that is here to stay. Whether you’re looking to make your prints interactive or combine printing with other technologies, an initial research and development meeting is your best bet.

Want to talk about your research and development strategy for interactive print? Drop us a line!


Brett Saunders is the Vice President of Finance and Development at Custom Color Corp. Brett spends part of his days wondering how to combine his loves of product research and development, Haribo gummy bears, large format printing, and all things Disney. The rest of his time he oversees the company finances and productivity. Connect with him on LinkedIn

Research and Development: Our Top 4 Designs

Grammar time! A major definition in the Custom Color dictionary is research and development, or R&D. The caliber of research and development that we’re defining isn’t a common noun in our industry; we like to think that we’re on the forefront of R&D in printing.

To provide a concise definition to represent the entirety of research and development is quite difficult – however, we’ve managed to hit the nail on the head in less than ten words. To us, research and development is, “innovative problem solving to exceed customer’s needs and expectations.” 

cc research and development

Some of you might be visual learners, so I’ve come up with our top four developments that started as sketches on napkins or scrap paper and have evolved into print perfection.

1. Giant McDonalds Bag – Project since 2013

Their challenge: McDonalds wanted to send a "thank you" message to Iowans for their support - they took that message to the state capital. They were looking for a print company to create a larger-than-life item that represented their larger-than-life fast food chain.

R&D to the rescue: We developed a massive (by massive, we mean 9 feet tall by 5 feet wide) replica drive-through bag. This was challenging because a truly matte paper is impossible to find. We had to develop a way to print on the reverse side of paper to make the finish true to the bags that everyone knows and loves. We also created an internal structure to keep the bag standing upright in the middle of vast state capital floors. This project was so successful that we have created the celebration bags for this event in the years since 2013. 

2. Branding Blocks for a Midwest-Based Banking Institution – Project since 2009

Their challenge: As with many projects, budget was a factor. This particular banking institution wanted a printed item that was more unique than the standard prints they currently had for about the same price they were currently paying. Floor space was also a challenge – this bank knew that their branches had less than 2 feet to dedicate to visual marketing. An additional challenge was the product had to ship flat to each branch. 

R&D to the rescue: I immediately went to B-Flute, an affordable, strong, corrugated board and a great rigid substrate for printing. After much folding and cutting, drawing and crunching numbers, and folding and cutting some more, the branding block emerged. Now we create branding blocks in  19-, 12- and 6-inch options. Thanks to the success of the branding block, we’ve created thousands for different companies in different industries all over the United States.

3. 3D Popcorn Display for AMC Theaters

Their challenge: AMC thought the branding blocks were cool, but they wanted to adorn their theater lobbies and hallways with printed masterpieces unique to their brand. Echoing the affordability and shipping factors, I had to ensure that their unique creation would be cost effective and could ship flat to their more than 300 locations. 

R&D to the rescue: After much experimentation with different substrates and angles, the 3D popcorn display was created from a styrene substrate. The angles on this project were a killer challenge, but the finished product was so worth the math that it took to create. This successful research and development project encouraged AMC to ink outside the box to create more custom creations for their theaters. 


4. Interchangeable Sign Frames for Savers

Their challenge: You guessed it, cost. Prior to the R&D revamp, in most Savers stores you’d find large metal double-sided frames that held 6 mm sintra. Savers has over 350 locations. Two-sided rigid prints for 350 locations made changing messaging quite pricey due to the substrate and oversized shipping rates. They needed a different solution.

R&D to the rescue: We worked through trial and error on this project. We tested many substrates and adhesives, including Velcro and paper. The final solution was brilliant (if I must say so myself) and allowed Savers to change messaging more often for more stores. We mounted 2 pieces of magnet to sintra – this magnet is the base for all designs. Now we print on magnet receptive paper to allow the designs to be layered and installed with ease. 

Each research and development project is evidently different - however, each project starts with a problem that needs to be solved. many customers find not only that research and development solutions alleviate their initial problems or concerns, but oftentimes also save tens of thousands of dollars per campaign. While it may seem that research and development creates products, we are actually engineering printing solutions. 

Some of our super-awesome work for the best clients in business can be found here. If you're interested in talking about some research and development for your good or service, contact us!

Brett Saunders is the Vice President of Finance and Development at Custom Color Corp. Brett spends part of his days wondering how to combine his loves of product research and development, Haribo gummy bears, large format printing and all things Disney. The rest of his time he oversees the company finances and productivity. Connect with him on LinkedIn