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By Suzan Filipek
June 29, 2017
 
Los Angeles, CA-Elected officials on a city committee have generated controversy by loosening a proposed Citywide Sign Ordinance to permit digital billboards both within sign districts and outside of them.

According to the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, if the committee members' proposed changes are approved by the full City Council, billboards would be permitted in "commercial" zones, which include most major Los Angeles streets and intersections, and digital billboards, therefore, would be "flashing messages in our faces every eight seconds."

In May, the city Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) instructed the City Attorney to draft a new ordinance that would nix ones from 2009 and 2015 and liberalize the draft replacement ordinance already prepared by City Planning Dept. staff.

Previously, the Planning Commission had approved controls that banned new billboards in 90 percent of the city. PLUM now favors allowing companies to install new billboards throughout the city, except residential neighborhoods, pending Council review.

The signs bring in revenue, proponents argue. Critics say elected officials gain with campaign donations.
According to CityWatchLA, the further revised draft ordinance will be unveiled in mid- July.

Councilmember David Ryu believes the most important issue always has been the prohibition of billboards outside of sign districts.

"He is not supportive of billboards outside of sign districts. He also opposes amnesty or grandfathering of any illegal signs that are without permits or any altered signs in violation of their permits. Councilmember Ryu would like to see a sign ordinance with strong penalty provisions for non-compliance," said the Councilman's director of communication Estevan Montemayor.  
 
Weston's New Billboard Restrictions Prompt Outdoor Advertiser Lamar to Sue
By Linda Harris
June 28, 2017

Clarksburg, WV -Lamar Advertising is taking the city of Weston to court over its billboard restrictions.

Lamar said it got the Lewis County Board of Education's approval to erect a billboard on school-owned property in August 2016. That same day, Lamar said city officials sent the board a letter asking them to reconsider their decision. Nearly four months later, in December, Lamar said the city passed an ordinance prohibiting billboards within 500 feet of "any church, school property, cemetery, public park, public reservation, public playground or state or national forest."
 
A month later city officials rejected Lamar's application for a permit for the billboard.

In a suit filed in federal court in Clarksburg, Lamar contends commercial speech, including advertising, is protected by the First Amendment, and the ordinance as written is too broad.

"The ordinance is not narrowly tailored enough to pass constitutional muster due to the inordinate amount of places that advertising cannot be erected," the suit complains. "It is not tailored to a specific street or block of the city, but is expanded to any place in the city which is within 500 feet of numerous places that can be spread throughout the city itself."

The company also accuses the city of "tortuous" interference in its contractual agreement with the school board and suggests in its actions to beautify the city, "the ordinance not only restricts the erection of signage on property owned by the municipality, but also improperly restricts privately owned property in such a way that it amounts to a taking of private property for a government use without due process of law."

Lamar wants the court to find the ordinance improperly restricts protected commercial speech "and order that the ordinance be repealed," along with unspecified damages and costs.

City officials declined comment because of the lawsuit.

Lamar is represented by Robert Greer and Jenna Robey of Greer Law Offices, Clarksburg.

OUTFRONT Media Completes Billboard Asset Swap
By Staff Writer
July 5, 2017
 
NEW YORK, July 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- OUTFRONT Media Inc. (NYSE: OUT) announced today that it has completed an asset swap with Independent Outdoor Network.  The Company acquired digital billboards in the Boston designated market area (DMA) in exchange for static billboards in four non-metro market clusters considered not strategic to its top DMA focus.

The acquired assets include 16 digital billboard displays, including two displays in-development, and two static billboard displays contiguous with the Company's existing portfolio surrounding the city of Boston. The divested assets include several hundred static displays in predominantly non-metro areas of Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and South Carolina.

About OUTFRONT Media Inc. 
OUTFRONT Media connects brands with consumers outside of their homes through one of the largest and most diverse sets of billboard, transit, and mobile assets in North America.  Through its ON Smart Media platform, OUTFRONT Media is implementing digital technology that will fundamentally change the ways advertisers engage people on-the-go.

Floor Graphics: Looking Down is Looking Up
By Andy Stonehouse
July 6, 2017
 
When we think of advertising and promotional images, we usually consider a business's walls, windows or display units as prime territory. But as retailers have sought to maximize on every square inch of advertising space, many have begun to consider the opportunities on their unused floors, both indoors and outdoors.

Thus the creation and continued growth of floor graphics, which you've probably already seen in action at your local convenience store or big-box retailer. Their relatively compact size can make them an easy output job for print shops, and with some creative flair and a little technical know-how, they can also be designed to attract customers with a very eye-catching 3D look. Some companies have even created laminates suitable for carpets.

Steve Tomas, head of product branding with FLEXcon, a printer and provider of printing films, says the marketing potential for floor graphics is quite compelling, with studies showing an increase of $2 per 1,000 shoppers in lift rate, as a result of those floor-mounted images. That's good news for printers.

But considering the graphics are also literally victims of foot traffic all day long, proper installation is an especially important skill to learn in order to turn floor graphics into a lucrative sideline.

The good news is that adding floor graphics output to your repertoire probably won't necessarily require new equipment, just a few new skills. David Timmerman, West Coast regional technical specialist with Avery Dennison, says the major differentiations with floor graphics mostly come in the wide choice of substrates, and says work is simple to begin, provided you are already set up to do wide-format printing.

"Latex, solvent and UV printer technology can all be used for floor graphics, and no special software is needed unless printers are wanting to create more of a 3D shift in their floor graphics," he says. Given that these are images customers will not be expecting to see, creativity is key, he adds.
 
"You do want to make sure it fits the purpose of the project," he says. "Are you advertising a product? Can you read the advertisement while walking over it? Or are you printing a wood grain or tile pattern just to change the look of the floor. A customer may not want to invest in the added artwork cost for creating a 3D graphic, so if you have the talent in your design team, always present both options - and both prices."

Design is critical to these pieces, and learning to finesse the details for the specialized work required to create floor graphics can have a bit of a learning curve, according to Holly Coleman, marketing development manager with 3M's Commercial Solutions Division.

"A factor some shops should consider is the process of scaling the graphics," Coleman says. "It usually takes designers some practice creating floor graphics that appear as polished as they do on walls, and part of that is because floor graphics are (simply) much smaller than other applications."

Tomas says floor graphics products fall into a few broad categories - clear, white and opaque white base films, plus overlaminates of varying glossiness (in his and other companies' cases, all satisfying UL 410 standards for slip resistance for flooring material).

"Anyone interested in printing floor graphics should have the ability to print on existing UL-classified graphics base films and the ability to laminate the printed base with a matching overlaminate," he says. "They may also want the ability to cut the final graphics to shape with a plotter cutter or flatbed cutter."

Popular products include 3M's Conroltac or Envision print wrap films (available in 60-inch-wide rolls), Avery Dennison's MPI series printable films and FLEXcon's base materials, plus FLEXcon's proprietary Safari embossed clear-finish overlaminate.
 
As Tomas explains, slip resistance is a key issue in the floor graphics field. And since graphics require that extra durability, Tomas says that first-time printers should consider some of the warranty implications for the products they create - and shop around a bit before investing in substrate.

"New players to the floor graphics market would be wise to understand the variety of warranties and indemnifications available to them and their end customers," he says. "Small companies must consider the value of risk mitigation with a warrantied and indemnified product versus their own liability for generic products used on the floor."

Timmerman reiterates the necessity of getting customers to understand how floor graphics will last, and factoring that into your sales and pricing.

"Floor graphics are short-term applications and clients should be made aware of the warranty and the expectations, up front," he says. "The standard warranty for a floor graphic is six months."

Once the work is printed (or has come back from an outsource printer, for specialty jobs), the biggest challenge in making floor graphics perfect is the issue of installation. Unlike standard wall- or window-mounted images, floor graphics will be walked on or scuffed by shopping carts and dollies, so it's important to do a perfect job on the install, the first time.

"If an installation is done incorrectly, it can hinder the overall appearance of the graphics as well as impede the walking plane," 3M's Coleman says. "We recommend that prior to any application, the surface should be stripped of wax, cleaned and degreased to promote adhesion. The last step should always be to re-squeegee the edges so they don't curl up. Another tip for successful installation is to have the floor graphics waxed over when the entire floor is treated. This will meld the two together and make the appearance even more seamless."

For bigger projects - such as aisle-wide print jobs - installation work can be a little trickier.

"Installation of large, paneled graphics also requires careful inspection for wrinkles, bubbles and properly adhered seams," adds FLEXcon's Tomas. "Seams on multi-panel floor graphics should be butted together rather than overlapped to minimize the profile of the graphic and eliminate unnecessary raised edges."