By: Bill Shea – Crain’s Detroit Business DETROIT – (Sept 5, 2014) — The signature element of Detroit’s skyline — General Motors’ Renaissance Center headquarters — is adorned with a massive GMC advertising wrap for the Detroit Lions’ upcoming appearance on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast. The graphic work, which includes the truck brand logo atop the network’s game logo, was done last week by i.M. Branded, which is co-owned in suburban Detroit by Roger Penske’s Penske Automotive Group. GMC is the official truck of the National Football League, and the intent of doing the massive wrap is to get the brand in front of the “Monday Night Football” audience when ESPN does secondary shots of the city outside Ford Field during the game. The games averaged 13.6 million viewers last season. i.M. Branded designs, manufactures and installs custom vinyl graphic wraps and images for buildings and vehicles. Since 2010, it has had a millwork unit that does a variety of internal build-outs of auto dealerships, including fixtures and desks. The wrap is about 280 feet tall and 125 wide, and is a perforated vinyl window film applied to the exterior of glass that allows people inside the building to still see through the windows, said i.M. Branded President Jim Whitehead. The film is similar to looking through a screen door.
50 Hours of Work
The RenCen wrap was designed and printed, over about 50 hours nonstop, on the firm’s 2,400-pound HP Latex 850 printer, a $250,000 machine that uses eco-friendly ink, he said. This is the largest wrap to ever adorn the RenCen, Whitehead said, larger than a wrap on the central tower for the Super Bowl and baseball’s All-Star game. It took five i.M. Branded staffers a week to install the wrap, which will be lit at night this weekend and during the game, and will remain up through September. While Whitehead didn’t disclose a cost, he said large building wraps begin at $100,000 and can top out at “multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.” i.M. Branded’s largest wrap was a 400-by-125 wallscape on the north face of Joe Louis Arena in 2001 for the relaunch of Dodge’s NASCAR participation, he said. Whitehead founded the company in 1996, and Penske took an equity stake in 2009, he said. The firm employs 78, and since 2003 has had an automotive focus. It does work directly or indirectly for the Detroit 3 automakers and more than 3,000 dealerships nationwide, Whitehead said. The company’s revenue last year was $13 million.
Expanding Beyond Auto
The company’s clientele is expanding to other sectors and targeting health care and retail. (Auto is) the vehicle to allow us to build out the infrastructure to handle large-scale image programs outside the automotive industry. Our printers don’t care whether they print cars or kids. – Jim Whitehead, President, i.M. Branded. i.M. Branded has done wrap and graphics work for Detroit’s four pro sports teams, area universities and the Detroit Zoo water tower in 1998. It also recently provided the city skyline graphics for new Detroit police cars and ambulances, he said. The company intends to bid on graphic and millwork for the new Detroit Red Wings arena that is to open in 2017, Whitehead said. The company’s first building wrap was the Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills. The RenCen wrap for the national broadcast between the Detroit Lions and New York Giants on Monday evening stemmed from the Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix image work i.M. Branded had done with GM, Whitehead said. The firm did a smaller wrap on the RenCen that faced the island during the Memorial Day weekend auto races on the island, and later had talks with GMC during a dealer event at Cobo Center, he said. The game aired at 7:10 p.m. Monday September 8th. The Lions defeated the New York Giants 35-14.