Link Signs and Graphics plays its part…
Posted in Grow
The only thing that LEGOLAND, AltonTowers and The London Eye might appear to have in common, is that they’re notably successful public attractions that pull in visitors by the thousands. What might not be immediately obvious is that they’re all operated by the same company - Merlin Entertainments Group. Add to that list Warwick Castle, Chessington World of Adventure, Sealife Centres and others in the UK and overseas, and it readily becomes apparent that Merlin is not only a company with considerable reach, but it also has the golden touch in making successes of attractions.
Merlin’s talent has propelled it to the point where it’s now the largest attractions operator inEurope, and the second largest in the world. With over fifteen thousand employees and real passion for its brands, its attractions’ success are a reflection of the Company’s expertise in its field.
Numbered among the attractions to recently enter Merlin’s portfolio are Blackpool’s prized assets. Merlin and Blackpool are no strangers to each other, Merlin having operatedBlackpool’s Sealife Centre for years. Now, the Company has been appointed to manageBlackpool’s iconic Tower, and the newly rebranded Madame Tussauds, formerly Louis Tussauds’ Waxworks.
Blackpool’s Council acquired these assets, and others, from Leisure Parcs Ltd. recently and now, with Merlin at the attractions’ helms, is intent on making them a core component in Blackpool’s firmly established trajectory toward its goal of becoming a thoroughly regenerated international holiday and business destination, proud of its heritage and the affection with which it’s held, but with its sights set with intent on its future.
Ambition’s alter-ego is investment and the council has secured significant funding in pursuit of its goals. The Council estimates that its plans would result in as many as 800,000 additional visitors coming to the town every year who will take home great reviews of their experiences and between them have spent up to £55M and yet be all the richer for it.
Plans for the Tower include an “Eye” branded experience and a 4D cinema at what’s now the Tower’s observation level and, coming gently back to street level again, Merlin intends rebranding Louis Tussauds Waxworks into the UK’s second Madame Tussauds so extending the reach of the London based brand, which Merlin also operates.
Merlin’s plans for the waxworks are no less ambitious than those it’s applying to the Tower. In what amounts to a top-to-bottom rebranding and relaunch, Merlin is moving the attraction out of the traditional, and into the interactive age. The attraction clearly has its role to play in Merlin’s plans and in Blackpool’s.
It speaks realms for the talents of a company that styles itself a Signmaker, and the versatility of the digital output that the company produces, that Link Signs and Graphics was approached and appointed to provide a significant contribution not only to the new attraction’s signing, but to the creation and installation of its ambient exhibit graphics too.
The ambient graphics the attraction employs, contribute powerfully to the overall experience visitors will be buying when they visit Blackpool’s Madame Tussauds. The models themselves engage the visitor on one level, the ambience on quite another. The whole experience is the product of expert design. The desired outcome, a memorable visit that people will want to repeat so building the brand’s reputation and its proven pulling-power, and favourably haloing Blackpool’s, and Merlins ambitions.
LSG’s work amounts to a set-building exercise on a scale that befits the importance of the venue. Working with its operator’s designers, LSG was required to produce flawless digital output to decorate the scene’s flats. The materials consumed rapidly climbed north toward a thousand linear meters.
The laminated output was produced using Metamark MD3 digital vinyl which was applied directly to the flats’ prepared surfaces. Metamark’s MD3 is highly regarded for its ink appetite and resolution holding ability and it clearly produced a command performance in concert with LSG’s Mimaki JV-33 printer, which was used for the entire print run.
The printed MD3 flats reflect real world resonances in which the models’ subjects are known. Ben Fogel’s model perches on a vertiginous rock-face rendered and applied by the LSG team on the scene’s flat and continuing onto the floor. Alan Carr is surrounded by all his chatty self’s familiar scenery and the likes of Jonathan Ross and Davina McCall among many others are all part of an experience made all the more immersive by the creative work provided by LSG’s digital work with Metamark materials.
Given the size of the print run and the fact some panel matching was inevitable, one of the big production challenges LSG confronted was ensuring total consistency from one abutting panel to another. The Metamark MD3 played its part well in this respect and others. LSG’s application team working with the designers, ensured that panel overlaps were carefully managed and expertly fitted. The result is uniform expanses of colour even where the design is swept in density over the run of many metres.
Every discrete element in a programme the size of the Madame Tussauds project plays a role in delivering the whole, undiluted experience. Any single element poorly executed impacts the whole. Luckily, in LSG, the job found a company where quality is cultural, and talent available. Digital print in the hands of the LSG team has proven itself equal to the job of transforming an attraction and bringing it into an age where the participation and involvement of the visitor is key. LSG’s work has discharged its duty brilliantly.
LSG may cast itself in the role of a Signmaker but with its competence in digital print, design and project management continuing to take the company to new markets, it’s much more. The Metamark materials it chose to produce its Madame Tussaud’s work have a role that somewhat pigeonhole them too but are clearly capable of bigger things in the right hands. What’s clear is that both have depth and versatility sufficient to take them into ventures beyond signing in the traditional sense.
LSG’s work may be seconded to Tussaud’s celebrity calibre models but without it, the experience would be lacking one of the vital ingredients that deliver the full impact of one of Merlin’s best known brands.