If you’re a sports man, you’re a print man. You
might not realize it, but print is a big deal in sports. Naturally, sportswear
come to mind first, but the bigger picture is even more large format than that.
For argument’s sake let’s consider sportswear as one
of the leading printing application technologies in sports today. Every
team, whether it is cycling, running or football, needs to have its own shirt.
The sponsor’s logos needs to be clearly printed on there and the sign maker is
asked to put on a name and number. Okay, so we have the branding issue covered.
Now let’s talk volume, because every village, town or city has its own
football, volleyball, badminton and/or hockey team. And they all need their own
shirts, so we’re talking big business.
Cycling is the worst, mind you. With so many sponsors
looking for logo coverage, you simply have to resort to sublimation
technologies. It’s cheaper to print than to apply all these logos with flock or
solvent textile stickers.
Same principle for running gear, which is being
personalized more often than not nowadays. You know I’m not talking about a
small number of one-offs. So, printing the whole garment is again more
profitable than applying graphics information afterwards. The rise of neon
colour use makes it even more difficult to stick to traditional print. The new neon
dye sublimation colours finally make it possible to produce these garments
Returning to my original statement, there truly is so
much more printing going on in the sports worlds. Just consider all the
boarding around the fields. Some years ago (more than I care to
remember), all you had to do was slap some vinyl letters on the trespa
boarding. Now customers want full colour images on these boards, so
applying full colour vinyl is a lot of work, printing directly onto the boards with UV
technologies seem more convenient. Besides, the rapidly changing sponsor
products and selling markets make these signs obsolete after merely one or two
Reprinting the boards might prove the better update once the term or
sponsoring contract is over.
Talking about volatility in sponsoring, let’s have a
look at the racing market.
How about those big fancy motorhome like trucks that
need to cross the country and make heads turn? The better the print, the better
the visibility for the team and sponsors. Hospitality areas may not be neglected
with all the flags (beach/standing) posters, popup banner systems and free
giveaway sticker opportunities for the guests of the sponsors.
Again – all
marketing material that is printed all digitally as it needs to be tailored to
each event. Don’t even get me started on team merchandizing!
Printed T-shirts, jackets and mugs with the pictures of the team drivers and
sponsors on them.
I recently attended a GT3 race in the UK and feasted my
eyes on the different prints. Print as far as the eye could see, I had to
look for a spot that was not adorned with print. Who said print was dead?
The paddock areas actually looked more like a printing
show than a garage; I spotted at least 6 different print technologies.
Although vinyl applications are still big, full colour printing, sublimation,
UV printing and Latex were used in great abundance.
I was happy to see the print
technology was used for the backdrops in the garage, the full colour prints on
the cars and some of the signage on the trucks. When I asked why they
applied print on the car and not standard paint with vynil stickers, the reply I got left me speechless.
The result on the car was over a whopping 3 kilo weight reduction.
for a USP for print?
Did you know that at the last Olympic winter games
over 15km of textile banner was used – all printed in full colour for barriers and out
of stadium event areas.
Finish and start messaging – printed. Numbers and
identification cards for all athletes, coaches and trainers – printed. Signage,
advertising, country flags for the media ceremonies – printed.
digital. Print. There will be no escape.
Let me challenge you.
Next time you’re at a sports
event, have a look around and let me know how many print technologies you have
We’ll talk it over at the next race. Keep on printing.