Tag Archives: Print

National EMS Week 2014

Once again, Vanguard Direct will be a part of your daily routine. The next time you are passing by a phone kiosk a new promotion for National EMS Week will be sure to catch your eye.

Assembling the Pieces

Created by Vittoria Semproni, the project was a fairly quick turnaround.

Semproni said there were two original directions discussed with the Fire Department of New York City for the phone kiosk and smaller poster. Both included the elements of EMTs demonstrating how they bring a person back to life, an electrocardiogram and the FDNY’s new ambulance.  The difference resided in whether or not to place a Manhattan location in the background.

Originally, various images for the posters were taken by the FDNY and sent to VGD. These images were integrated into a number of mock-up posters before being presented to the client. After a modified concept was agreed upon, the FDNY conducted a final photo-shoot and sent the results to VGD. The final poster is pictured below.

EMS Poster 2014

Pictured above are EMTs David Weissman and Elvis Velez as well as Paramedic Jessica DeResto. The poster was unveiled on May 1, 2014. Terranova said the pictured EMS veterans have a combined 54 years of experience.

FDNY EMS Division Chief Rosario Terranova worked with Vanguard on the project. He said, through a series of brainstorming sessions, through “a lot of handholding and really a lot of assistance,” Vanguard Direct and the FDNY were able to create a campaign that celebrates the work of current employees as well as helps recruit prospective applicants.

Off to the Printer 

After Semproni finished the design, it was sent to Cari Frederico. Frederico said she then sent the design off-site to two separate plants. The products were sent back to Vanguard for a last look. Soon after, it was sent to the posting company to be shipped throughout the five boroughs.

The entire process took about ten days, Frederico said.

10 Years in the Making

But this poster was not Vanguard Direct’s first encounter with the FDNY.

Director of Creative Services, Kevin Green, said Vanguard Direct had worked with the FDNY to design and print various projects. However, the FDNY had designed their campaigns internally prior to the 2013 EMS Week Poster.

Due to the relationship going back almost a decade, Terranova said VGD was their first call.

While the FDNY had concepts and general ideas for the poster, they were not fully equipped at the time to turn it into reality, said Terranova.  He then explained how the FDNY came to Vanguard at the “11th hour” last year and were so happy with the results that they immediately chose VGD again for this campaign. The 2013 poster is pictured to the below.

2013 EMS Poster

The EMTs pictured above were 2013 EMS Academy graduates Jennifer Banegas, Kahmil Garcia, Stacie Miller and Jose Vargas.

Green said an estimated 2 to 2.5 million people in New York City saw the poster during its 3-month shelf life. One can expect this year’s poster to have similar public approval.

Past and Present

“This one I think is better in telling their story – last year was more exciting,” said Green.

He also said the 2014 poster demonstrated that EMS has people who are expertly trained to take care of your life, while the 2013 poster showed that there is an army of people ready taking care of your health.

Terranova said he could not be happier with this year’s campaign and Vanguard Direct overall.

Keep your eyes open for the poster! It will be displayed in more than 300 locations throughout Manhattan.

Author: Jaclyn Saumell



Did Quark Quack Its Last Quirk?

In 2002, I started working in the industry as an assistant prepress technician. Back then, we were on working Power Macintosh computers in the advanced operating system of “Classic Mac”—we couldn’t possibly trust the new OS X! We prepared files in QuarkXPress 5 and sent them to a film marker to eventually make plates and begin the printing process. Adobe was just starting to filter into prepress departments with InDesign 2, but like OS X, it was also not to be trusted.

At this time in the industry, the only software that could successfully communicate with plate setters and filmmakers was Quark. Yes, it had its quirks, but it always got the job done. Designing something in InDesign and trying to get it successfully onto a printing plate could spell disaster for my keyboard—InDesign was always the whipping boy for me!

Fast-forward to 2013, and you can clearly see that the tables have turned.  Adobe has totally taken over with CS 6, and those who refuse to make the switch only use Quark. I cringe when I get files in Quark. Just recently I received a magazine file in Quark, prepared perfectly and packaged appropriately. After doing our due diligence of loading the customer-supplied fonts and then opening the document and relinking any missing images, all seemed to be well. Our esteemed prepress technicians made print- and screen-ready PDFs, and we distributed them to the client for review.

This is the shocker: All the caption fonts were incorrect, and there was an entire image missing on one of the pages. After receiving this news from the client, I questioned our prepress technician. Much to my surprise, the response was, “I’m not surprised”—this is a known occurrence with Quark these days! Upon further investigation, we determined the fonts were there (we had to manually switch it), and so was the image. But the image was hidden—not behind something, just blank, gone! It came to our attention that a new feature called “content aware” text wrapping was used to wrap text around the image without placing a proper clipping path in Photoshop. So, the question is, why is Quark releasing features that are not totally fleshed out?

The moral to this story is: Quark, you quacked your last quirk for me! If a software provider who was a leader in the industry allows itself to be overtaken in a market it once dominated, it should cease to exist. You can’t take back market share when you are releasing versions that have so many “quirks” that it doesn’t make sense to use. So, today the only useful feature of Quark is the hidden Easter egg—the little alien that marches onto the screen to delete your object. When you get frustrated with Adobe products, open up Quark and hit this key command—it will make you feel better, and then you can quit Quark and go back to Adobe!

Tell me—do you use Quark and have a full keyboard of keys, or does it look like mine?

Author: John Mehl


Captcha If You Can

For those of you who visit the blog on a fairly regular basis (for which we offer our never-ending thanks), you will notice a small update has occurred on our blog and contact pages. Though we’ve tried to get by without one, we finally caved: If you want to contact us or interact with our blog, you now must cross that the extra trench of a captcha, a challenge-response test in order to ensure that your comment is from a real person.

Why, you ask? First and foremost, not having a captcha (which is an acronymn for “completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart”) creates an unnecessary security risk––and I just wrote about how companies need to step it up. Every time a website is open to the public to submit information, the same portal allows spammers––both humans and bots––to infiltrate and overload the website managers with spam. As everyone is aware, spam can be extremely destructive, though we were lucky never to run into that particular problem.

Our problem was one of inconvenience: spam that ate up a significant amount of resources. As one of the website managers, I’m here to tell you it was getting out of control. We would receive 35–40 pieces of spam on average per day, which on weekends would often spike up to 60–70 pieces of spam. On a week with minimal spam, we would receive almost 300 pieces of spam. Trying to sort out the legitimate comments and contacts from that list was often tedious and time-consuming. On top of this, the spam was also compromising our analytics of our website, which in a data-driven society would be reason enough for some people. So finally unable to bear the onslaught any longer, we implemented a captcha.

As you surf the Internet, you will notice there are many different types of captchas––often involving retyping numbers and text or, less often, executing math equations or seeing what is in an image––all with the goal of ensuring that you are human. Because of the print and digital nerds here at Vanguard Direct, we have opted for reCaptcha, a captcha that helps digitize print with every word typed in. How does it work? The program takes words that could not be read using optical character recognition (OCR) and distributes them for users to type in before they can submit other information to a website (such as comments on a blog). How does reCaptcha know the word is correct and that you are human? Two words are presented to the user, one of which is known already. If that word is answered correctly, then the user gets access to the web content and the unknown word is logged with reCaptcha with your possible solution. As that word gets typed, eventually a consensus emerges and the word can be determined with high confidence. With the amount of captchas getting filled out every day, the more reCaptcha is used, the quicker we can archive things that exist solely on paper.

Remember that a captcha can help filter out most spam, making both your life easier and your website a safer place to visit. This week I have gotten two pieces of spam. That’s a monumental decrease from 300. Using a service like reCaptcha on top of it also gives something back to the print and literary worlds, solving multiple problems at once!

Author: Zack Smith

Can Being Too Green Actually Be Bad?

In today’s market, everyone is focused on being “green.” Has anyone ever stopped to ask, “Are we being too green?” In some cases, I think we are. In the hopes of impressing our peers with how green we are, we might actually be losing touch with the basics of living a sustainable life.

Paper: It’s a race to see how many logos you can get on your printed piece. Is it FSC-, SFI-, or Rainforest Alliance-certified, printed with soy inks, powered by wind energy, 100% PCW recycled, carbon neutral, printed by a man wearing recycled shorts, and not printed on Earth Day? We are going to need business cards that are 8.5″ x 11″ to hold all these logos on the back. But have we ever thought about if we need those printed materials or not? (Jump back to my previous post for more info. on paper and “greenness.”)

Transportation: If you’re an actor in California, more likely than not, you drive a hybrid. My first question is: Why? If I had that type of cash, it would be a Bugatti Vitesse. Sure, it’s not cheap––just 2.5 million––but it goes like hell! It’s considering their “public image” that persuades all affluent actors to buy a hybrid and drive around in the most boring cars that have ever existed. I would argue that new, clean-burning turbo diesels are better for the environment than the best hybrids out there––and you can actually enjoy driving them for more than 100 miles!

I would challenge everyone to take a step back and evaluate your green initiatives. Consider what you did before. Younger generations are learning more about sustainable initiatives but are losing sight of their day-to-day activities that produce the most waste. We have turned into a very waste heavy society.  What happened to reusable milk and beer bottles, paper shopping bags that we used as trashcans or book covers? Think before you print, ask yourself, how many do you really need? Try taking public transit to work, it gives you time to think and reduces your inner road rage!

Author: John Mehl

Too Little, Too Late?

Kudos to the United States Postal Service. Ending Saturday delivery is a step in the right direction for the ever-failing quasi-governmental organization. But is this too little, too late? With an estimated loss of 15 billion a year, due mainly to prepaid pensions, the Saturday delivery cut will take care of only 2 to 3 billion of that deficit, leaving the USPS in a hole 12 to 13 billion deep. Union leaders, Congress, and the American public face some hard choices. Do we allow the USPS to increase postage to rates that UPS and FedEx have survived on? Should Congress revise its 2006 law requiring that the pensions be prepaid, or do we let the USPS fail? How important to you is every door, every day service? Isn’t five days enough? I, for one, would enjoy five-day service. I mean, who wants a bill in the mail on a Saturday to ruin the rest of your weekend anyway?

The announcement to cancel Saturday mail was a milestone in USPS history. The USPS made this announcement during a press conference even before consulting Congress or union leaders. Since union leaders influence the members of Congress who actually determine the fate of the USPS, I would think they wound be in the know. But they weren’t, and I’m happy about that. This means that the USPS is taking charge and making decisions no matter who it upsets in the process.
Here’s to hoping that the USPS can make the necessary decisions to stay afloat for another 50 years! But if it can’t, we’ll just have to use the interweb. That is, of course, what you’re reading this on!

BuzzFeed’s Picks for Best Print Ads of 2012

BuzzFeed recently published its picks for the top 12 print ads of 2012. While we hardly think these selections cover the full range of print ads published worldwide, there were certainly a few that stood out. To view all 12, be sure to check out BuzzFeed.

Have a favorite? Take a look at these five and let us know what you think!

1. Kielo Travel – Y&R, Belgrade

This ad is simply genius!

2. Pictionary – Ogilvy, Kuala Lumpur

3. LEGO – Jung von Matt, Hamburg

Admittedly, this ad took me a while to figure out. It wasn’t until I saw the entire campaign that I figured out what I was looking at. Love!

4. Karate for Kids – Grey, Tokyo

5. Ray-Ban – Marcel Worldwide, Paris

I was less than impressed with this ad. It’s a bit of an obvious route. Maybe in 1988 this would have been cutting-edge. I get the old New York reference. But still—meh.

Author: Eric Swenson

Convergence of Holidays, or How Do I Send a Greeting Card Without Ruining a Client Relationship?

I think the “Holiday Season” begins right after Labor Day, or at least it does in Walmart when the summer section begins its transformation to the “Winter Decorations” section. Call this time of year what you want, but it’s anything but the Indian summer of my youth, at least in the stores. Consumer dollars are paramount in the last four months of each year, and no matter what the occasion, there are greeting cards sitting on the shelves to please every denomination and cover every “holiday” event. Living in New York, I would say there is no greater melting pot of cultures anywhere in the world.

The business world wants to use this time of year to reach out to its client base to thank them for their business and wish them a “Happy Holiday.” Therein lies the first dilemma: what holiday is “safe” to mention? Some will go with their own beliefs and may send a Christmas card, while others will play it safe and send a generic “Happy Thanksgiving” (everyone eats turkey), “Season’s Greetings,” or “Happy New Year” card.

Marketing communication companies are in a special pickle when it comes to deciding which medium to use to convey their greetings. Email blasts, YouTube clips, or other clever new media can be used to wow the client base, but today I want to talk about one of my favorites: old-fashioned ink on paper. To me there is nothing like the experience of receiving a card at home in the mail and opening it like a Christmas present to see what exciting message lies within.

A recent post by Matthew Parker on the Profitable Print Relationships blog outlines seven of the many dos and don’ts that will help you think through the process. Print companies especially need to put their collective best foot forward. Nothing kills the message like a catalog-bought card or a card that is poorly executed. This is your profession, and this is your time to shine. Spare no expense and make your card pop. Check out the post here:

If you have a smaller holiday card list and still want to send something original, I can suggest a new Apple app that I can personally vouch for as offering value for your dollar. The app is simply called Cards, and it allows you to send beautiful letterpress cards you can personalize using a number of various designs. You can send them from your iPhone, iPod Touch, or your iPad. Each card is just $2.99 when mailed in the US, and that includes postage. The cards are printed on a heavyweight, textured cover stock with matching envelopes. You have the option to add photos to the design, and the cards can be generic or personalized for any occasion. You can also send the same card to multiple parties. Each envelope has a handwritten look to it, and though it may be a gimmick, it’s hot right now. Take a look at the app at Apple’s App Store or follow this link.

If senders would only call on their own greeting card experiences before sending greeting cards, they would avoid many disappointed recipients. I have complied a few of my own dos and don’ts––but then again, this is just me.

• Do sign the card! For the love of Mike, would it kill ya to sign a card?

• Do add a handwritten message to photos with preprinted greetings. I love seeing you and your family grow old, but it would be nice to hear how everyone is doing and exactly how Uncle Willy wound up in the wheelchair. Personalize the card for me.

• Do get the names of my family right, make sure the spouse is the current one, and also check if Ol’ Yeller is still alive before adding the pet’s name.

• Don’t write “Seasons Greetings.” If you know me at all, send me a Christmas card and please stop hoarding free cards from twenty years ago––use the new ones you get for free.

• If you send a card you got for free from a charitable organization, please do send them a small donation or just put the cards in the recycling bin. If I see you in fur during the holiday, your PETA card may come flying back at ya.

• Finally, do make me smile. I know we have all had our own shares of ups and downs, but at least make something warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.

With that said, this is the front of my card for this year:

Happy Holidays!

Author: Tom Caska