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Sears, Roebuck and Co. Chooses Black Gatorfoam®

At the dawn of this new millennium, a company with more than a century’s experience under its belt in the jeans business has chosen to move forward by embracing its heritage. Levi Strauss & Co., the venerable San Francisco-based apparel maker founded in 1853, has launched a global branding campaign focused on the traditional Levi’s® red Tab Device that has adorned the company’s jeans for decades.

np3f006167ef844“Everyone knows that little red tab – no matter where you go in the world,” says David Rivera, account manager, store design, Levi Strauss & Co. “In the consumer’s mind, the red tab is synonymous with Levi’s® jeans.”

Point-of-purchase signage featuring the Levi’s® red Tab Device is gradually being rolled out to the company’s retail partners worldwide. The goal of this point-of-purchase campaign is to simplify Levi’s brand imagery in stores. Previously, Levi Strauss & Co. had offered wall signage featuring four to five images and several Levi’s® housemark logos, which are similar in shape to a bat’s wing. The new look features a Levi’s® red Tab Device on each end of one large, horizontal graphic.

“Our retail partners have commented that the new signage is very clean,” says Rivera. “It enhances the retail presentation.”

Sears, Roebuck and Co., the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-headquartered domestic store retailer, created signage for its Men’s, Women’s and Kids’ departments featuring the new Levi’s® brand graphics in late-1999. Sears chose to mount the Levi’s® red Tab Device graphics on black Gatorfoam® graphic arts board by the Uniwood/Fome-Cor® Division of Nevamar Company.

Superior FomeBords Corp., a Chicago-based distributor of Uniwood/Fome-Cor graphic arts boards, supplied and cut the 1-inch thick black Gatorfoam for this project.

“I sell a lot of Gatorfoam and cut a ton of Gatorfoam,” says Tony Lampariello, vice president, operations, Superior FomeBords.“We do jobs on a commercial production level, so we don’t have time for issues to come up. Using Gatorfoam ensures that we don’t have issues. Gatorfoam is the best mounting substrate in the marketplace in terms of its quality and rigidity; it really stands alone. Nothing could compete with Gatorfoam’s strength and lightweight for this application.”

Gatorfoam, the original heavy-duty graphic arts board, consists of polystyrene foam bonded between two layers of Luxcell®, a sturdy, wood-fiber veneer laminate. Gatorfoam offers high structural strength and durability and may be used outdoors. In addition to black Gatorfoam – which features a black surface and black core – Gatorfoam is available with both white and natural surfaces that feature a white core. Black Gatorfoam is available in 60-inch by 120-inch and 48-inch by 96-inch sheets in thicknesses ranging from 3/16 inches to 2 inches.

Andre’s Imaging & Graphics in Chicago digitally captured the Levi’s® red Tab Device and reproduced it with a Durst Lambda digital printer. Andre’s turned to Superior FomeBords for precision cutting of nearly 1,400 sheets of 48-inch by 96-inch Gatorfoam.

Superior FomeBords utilized a Striebig vertical panel saw outfitted with a digital measurement system and custom blade designed to cut Gatorfoam to meet Andre’s exact specifications prior to mounting images.Superior pre-treated the Gatorfoam surface to ensure that the prints adhered securely. Andre’s then mounted the digital prints – nine images per board with a high-quality pressure-sensitive adhesive and returned them to Superior for post-application cutting.

“These signs have beautiful edges,” says Matt Simpkins, purchasing agent, Andre’s Imaging & Graphics. “They’re clean and square. Superior did a great job. We used nearly 1,400 sheets of Gatorfoam. It offered lighter weight; it was easier to use, cleaner and more accessible.”

Andre’s fabricated 3-inch deep plastic brackets that were attached to the backs of the Gatorfoam signs with a high-performance hook-and-loop fabric. When displayed in the Sears stores, the signs, which were attached to flat walls, appeared to be suspended from the walls.

“By mounting the red tab photos on black Gatorfoam and attaching the signs with brackets, they appear to float on the wall,” says Glenn Russell, creative manager, Men’s and Kids’ departments, Sears, Roebuck and Co. “The lightweight of the Gatorfoam made installation very easy.”

Approximately 12,000 signs featuring the Levi’s® red Tab Device and measuring 13 inches by 28 inches were produced and shipped to Sears’ 920 department stores across the United States. Installation of the signage was completed in late-fall 1999; and it is expected to remain on display for approximately one to two years.

This project was selected as the inaugural winner of Uniwood/Fome-Cor’s “Nothing Beats the Original” Awards program (2000-2002). Winners were asked to select the charity of their choice to receive a monetary award from Uniwood/Fome-Cor. In this case, the Chicagoland Sears Volunteers Coats for Kids program received this monetary award in the name of Levi Strauss & Co.

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