24
Sat, Jun

ThinkBigger: Education through entertainment

Entry to a really neat competition run for designers by Pixartprinting has just closed - the latest in a whirl of novel marketing projects the Italian-based ‘Upload and Print’ giant is using to engage creatives. Here’s the thinking behind the initiatives.

C-Ritratto-Andrea-Pizzola

From its inception in 1994 Pixartprinting’s buzzwords have been innovation, creativity and experimentation - permeating its business model, production set-up, and its marketing and communication strategies. And the company - which recently created and adopted the term ‘Upload & Print’ (rather than using Web-to-print) to better engage with its customer-base - has made a point of shaking up the traditional supplier/customer relationship by pledging to create a community that buys-in to its brand. That’s meant stepping way outside the norms of mainstream marketing.

“We have adopted a long-term holistic approach to promoting our brand,” says Andrea Pizzola, sales and marketing director at Pixartprinting. “It is an ongoing process that is integrated into our overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on providing a constant source of inspiration to our community of users via content creation, experiential events and marketing tools that break the mould, like videos, books and contests. These project are mainly run by our marketing department, which we are expanding month on month by bringing in professionals with specific skills in art direction, Web marketing, copy writing and brand strategy”.

Pixartprinting’s off the wall marketing strategy is undoubtedly one of the reasons for its success, especially when considering that it operates in a B2B environment. Educating by entertaining and by placing the user at the centre of its engagement and retention efforts is producing very positive results.

“We always try to give our marketing activities an emotional side. This gives back a return in terms of commercial results and brand awareness, but it also helps to enlarge our customer-base - connecting graphic designers, the creative departments of printing companies and print buyers,” adds Pizzola.

Seeing the world through new eyes

Pixartprinting has recently developed various marketing projects based on content creation. The power of engagement provided by the company related to the world of design, printing and graphic design is well represented by ‘London Floors’. German photographer Sebastian Erras founded Instagram account ‘Parisian Floors’ to log some of the interesting floor designs he’d spotted on a trip Paris, and after doing the same in Venice and Barcelona he turned to London where he captured images of floors across the capital. With input from PixartPrinting, Erras’s 90,000 Instagram followers have been taken on a journey across some of London’s finest floors (https://www.pixartprinting.co.uk/content/london-floors/).

As part of its content creation activities Pixartprinting has also promoted an unusual tour of Milan, in search of the city’s historic signs. The ‘Milan Re-Tale’ page (https://www.pixartprinting.co.uk/content/milan-re-tale/) provides visitors with a visual itinerary that takes them on a “typographical shopping trip”, illustrating the variety of styles and the creativity involved in producing the ancient signs for the city’s shops and boutiques.

Let’s tell you a story

Pixartprinting’s aim is all about giving its marketing activities an emotional aspect - proposing content related to products, but presented in a rather unusual way. For instance, take a look at the social media project ‘#ThrowBackThursday’ promoted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn in four languages (Italian, English, French and Spanish). It presents traditional products such as business cards by a stop-motion video entitled ‘The Fabulous Pixartprinting Time Machine’, where the rhythmic workings of a mysterious time machine eventually reveal the star of the weekly story. This unique content has been released every Thursday, shedding new light on the history of certain items. The first episode explores books through an interview with illustrator Steve McDonald, creator of the ‘Fantastic Cities’ colouring books. The second episode is dedicated to stickers, beginning with the fascinating history of figurines, which began life as an advertising tool and, after the Second World War, started to bring groups of keen collectors together. The tale is illustrated with historical images and content created in partnership with the Panini Museum. The third episode involves business cards, which enters into a surreal dialogue with an imaginary character.

Creativity bloom

“Of course it’s not all about Web and virtual experience,” says Pizzola. “In order to engage people we mix artcraft and technology, physical items and imagination, combining video, photography and graphics in order to astonish and excite them.”

During the last Milano Design Week Pixartprinting set up an unusual interactive installation entitled ‘Pleasure Will Steal Your Soul’ which has been open to the public since the spring at Base Milano. The historic former Ansaldo factory houses an enormous flower made up of numerous colourful and animated smaller flowers, whose petals open and close with a mechanical rhythm caused by the ‘breathing’ of rubber balls that, thanks to the principle of shape memory, return to their original position with a fluid and organic motion, opening up the flower. Each flower is brought to life by a small motor programmed using Arduino technology, and each element of the work can potentially move independently, so there are infinite combinations available.

Every single printed part in ‘Pleasure Will Steal Your Soul’ was created by Pixartprinting, because as Pizzola explains: “With this project we wanted to encourage the creative community to imagine the numerous potential creative uses for the materials we usually employ for printing jobs.”

Making a connection

With a dedicated event in Milan, Pixartprinting launched an initiative closely linked to its core business: the making of a book dedicated to designers, art directors and printing addicts. ‘LooktheBook’ presents a selection of exclusive and high-profile topics as a collector’s item. The intention is to provide an inspirational journey full of hints and ideas for designers, artists, graphic designers and fans of fashion.

As well as bringing together a range of content such as design trends, photography, graphic projects, materials innovation, the book proffers unusual creative ideas and interactive spaces that encourage the readers to customise their own copy.

Beside the launch of ‘LooktheBook’, at the Milan event Pixartprinting announced the evolution of its blogazine, again with the intention of strengthening its connection with the creative community. From the beginning of 2016, ‘Pixarthinking’ has run with the slogan “Ideas. Can we trust them?”. This virtual magazine is dedicated to art, design, literature, music and cinema, with forays into theatre and performance art. Either the unusual, experimental, surreal, provocative and sardonic sides of these fields are sought from an oblique, unexpected and multidisciplinary viewpoint.

We want you!

And even more recently, Pixartprinting has turned to its customer network of graphic designers and creatives to come up with its own logo rework.

“Pixartprinting needs a thrill” was the title for the contest that Pixartprinting launched on Zooppa.com - the global social network for creative talent - and which closed to entries only on 1 September.

The aim of the contest was to find original and innovative ideas around which to build a new logo that expresses the company’s distinctive features, its constant growth and its propensity for innovation and evolution.

“Since the beginning we have acted as a high-tech printing partner for thousands of customers who trust our online shop for their work. Over 8,000 graphic design projects are uploaded to our platform every day, to be printed on various materials and delivered all over Europe, and now to the United States too,” says Pizzola.

“We believe that to put our users at centre stage and involve them in one of our projects is the natural evolution of the strength link we build with the huge community of graphic designers”.