Recipients of the Rogers Athletic catalog may think their eyes are playing tricks on them: A lenticular appliqué on the cover gives the photo a three-dimensional look and feel.
Clare, MI-based Rogers Athletic, which sells football-training equipment to schools and organizations, first used the lenticular for its 2000 annual catalog. The image showcased the motion of its Lev Sled, a training device for blocking techniques.
Lenticulars, which give images the illusion of motion, are seen mostly on printed items such as Pokémon trading cards, but a few catalogers use the technology to boost sales. Upscale marketer Neiman Marcus, for instance, used a lenticular on its holiday book in 1999.
How it’s done: A photographer took several rolls of pictures to get a sequence of 10-12 action photos depicting a football player pushing the Lev Sled on a playing field bordered by trees. According to designer Bob Schumaker of Grand Rapids, MI-based Schumaker Designs, one of the challenges was keeping the background consistent for all the images. To accommodate the inevitable changes in the sun’s position and the natural light, the photographer shot more photos than would ordinarily be required to ensure that there were enough consistent images to choose from.
The photos were then turned over to New Berlin, WI-based Quad Dimensional Imaging (division of Sussex, WI-based printer Quad/Graphics) to be interlaced into a series — similar to the process of animation. The series made up one composite image that was then put into a digital format. Quad Dimensional Imaging manager Bill Grove says that the photos were interlaced using Adobe PhotoShop software to achieve the motion effect.
Next, an offset press was used to print the image onto paper. Quad then processed the printed paper with a machine that laminated it with plastic and cured it into the grooved finish that acts as a lens to create the three-D motion effect. Finally, the lenticular was cut and shipped to Rogers’s printer, Grand Rapids-based The Etheridge Co., which secured it to the previously printed catalog cover with an adhesive.
What it costs: The cover lenticular cost Rogers almost as much as the printing of the rest of the catalog. Then there was the added expense of polybagging the book, to avoid damage from the automatic postal processing machines.
“We had a lot invested in this cover,” says David Jensen, Rogers’s marketing communications coordinator, “and we wanted to protect it from damage.” Jensen says that producing the lenticular added about a week to the production time.
The payoff: Investing the time and money to produce the lenticular paid off, Jensen says. The increase in sales of the Lev Sled featured on the cover was double the sales increase for the book as a whole. Jensen adds that while the Lev Sled had been featured on the catalog’s cover for the past three years, it had never enjoyed such a strong spike in sales until the lenticular cover.
Encouraged by the results, Rogers used another lenticular cover — this one featuring an open field tackle training machine — for its 2001 catalog, which mailed in January.