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September 20, 2018

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What’s behind those massive building wraps on the Las Vegas Strip


Thomas Moore

A 200-foot-tall-by-45-foot wrap on MGM Grand promotes the long-anticipated middleweight championship fight on Saturday.

Screaming Images

A billboard wrap is shown on the shop floor at Screaming Images Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. The company is a graphic design, print and installation business. Launch slideshow »

You don’t have to be a boxing fan in Las Vegas to know when one major bout is done and another is on its way. If you’re near the Strip, just look up at the colossal murals affixed to the MGM Grand’s towers.

Contractors working for Screaming Images recently took down the 200-foot-tall, 45-foot-wide mural announcing the Mayweather/McGregor fight. They replaced it with another, of the same dimensions, promoting Saturday’s middleweight championship fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena.

The graphic design, print and installation company has found that big murals — the boxing wraps are a good example — are more about generating excitement around an event than driving customers to buy tickets.

Joshua Garcia, creative director at Screaming Images, said the building wraps are typically handled outside the media-buying process that casinos and other companies use to purchase television, print and online advertising.

His boss and the owner of Screaming Images, James Swanson, agreed.

“(It’s) more about buzz, yes,” he said. “The purchasing requests come mostly from corporate, not from the property.”

As a result, there’s less concern about a big wrap missing a target demographic and more about ensuring the design works for the medium.

Even though the murals are huge, there’s a limit to how much information they can convey. The designs have to be simple, Garcia explained, with a few large elements, and almost no complex details, “You only have a couple of seconds to grab (people),” he said.

And of course, because of their size and the environment, the side of a building in Las Vegas, installation is a challenge.

The murals are printed out on Flexcon vinyl and attached to the buildings in the same way wraps are installed on buses and cars. The McGregor/Mayweather poster was made up of 66 panels, each one 5 feet wide by 30 feet tall.

Contractors limit their time hanging on the side of hotel towers by installing the murals in stripes. They start at the top left edge and install panels all the way to the bottom, before moving back to the top and to the right to install the next vertical stripe all the way down. This way they limit the number of lateral moves.

Organizing the wraps correctly as they are printed is extremely important because the installers themselves can’t check the mural. They are too close to the image to get an overall view of how it’s turning out.

So each roll containing a panel of the mural must be numbered properly and rolled up in the right direction to avoid mistakes — like installing someone’s nose upside down.

General Manager Tom Pickert said it takes 20-24 hours to print out a mural the size of the Mayweather/McGregor effort.

The panels are printed out on huge machines in Screaming Images' warehouse. Workers transfer the panels to a long table where they are trimmed. They lay them out on the floor alongside a few other panels to ensure the images are lining up correctly. After that, each panel is rolled up, packaged and, hopefully, numbered correctly.

In addition to getting the order or direction wrong, Pickert and Swanson said, there are other potential problems: Choosing cheaper materials, or installing the murals too quickly and trying to hang the panels like banners rather than making sure they adhere directly on the glass and steel of the buildings.

The climate is so harsh, Swanson said, that the vendor from which he buys the mural material halves the length of its warranty when it’s used in Las Vegas.

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