'Everybody wants to image something. We do it big."
That sums up the strategy of Mike McNeilly's company, SkyTag Inc. In a media environment dominated by global conglomerates, the boutique firm has prospered by putting gigantic images on buildings, walls and even swimming pools.
Skytag's latest project is the "Transformers" tower at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, an image that covers more than 100,000 square feet. The robots' eyes have lights beaming out of them at night, and the Goo Goo Dolls, who have a song in the movie, shot a music video on the rooftop that features the mammoth poster.
"Paramount was looking for something for the new Michael Bay movie and they wanted it big and spectacular," said McNeilly. "It's the largest construction wrap ever done."
The history-making image ranks as another in a list of SkyTag firsts. According to the company, it has digitally printed the largest building wraps, installed the highest tall walls, and designed the largest murals in the United States.
Skytag is based in Beverly Hills but has an office in Las Vegas, a place that McNeilly describes as the perfect town for his oversized products. He has covered the sides of casinos with pictures of entertainers such as Britney Speers, Toni Braxton and Prince. The company once plastered a huge Cadillac logo on the side of the black pyramid of the Luxor.
According to Stephen Freitas of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, painting the sides of barns is an advertising medium more than 100 years old, but it has staged a renaissance in recent years thanks to technical innovations. "Digital production, digital printing, new materials and adhesives that are translucent create new flexibility in how buildings have images attached," he said.
At SkyTag, images are digitally printed on a tight-weave mesh similar to the way billboards are created. Teams of workers with scaffolds drape the fabric on the building, where it usually stays for four to six weeks. A typical SkyTag client, such as a movie studio, wants coverage a few weeks before the film opens and extending into its theatrical run.
Recently the company launched a product to put pictures on the bottom of the large swimming pools at hotels. The process uses a liner that stays at the bottom and doesn't require draining the pool for installation. Best of all, it doesn't interfere with swimmers or cleaning equipment. "It allows us to image a pool without impacting the pool itself," said McNeilly.
Having built a company around big image, McNeilly now faces the challenge of ever-bigger demands from his clients.
"In the entertainment industry, everybody wants to go big and spectacular. Each time they want to take it to the next level," he said. "It used to be images on bus benches. Then it went to billboards, and then walls. Now they want an impact above and beyond walls something that impacts the cityscape."
The company name reflects McNeilly's roots as a street tagger back in the 1970s. He started SkyTag about 20 years ago, he explained, because tagging "became so high profile, we had to make it legal."
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