Bursting With Bubbles

3D add-ons provide the catalyst for attention-commanding wrap.
Dan Antonelli and his team at KickCharge Creative experimented with wrap design for The Carpet Chemist.

I came up with the idea to make a 3D wrap for The Carpet Chemist, but it wasn’t my first idea. I knew we wanted to do something different, and once we settled on the company’s name, my original idea actually had something to do with LEDs that might mimic old school neon signs with their animated phases of motion. So my first thought was: Let’s show the mad scientist pouring the solution into the beaker and animate those parts, followed by bubbles lighting up. I did a lot of research on photo luminesce techniques, LEDs and just determined from a cost and production standpoint that it couldn’t be pulled off. I don’t think the technology is there for anything more than a one-off – yet. I was admittedly a bit bummed about having to leave out the LED element for now, so then I started thinking about something simpler, but still effective.


Our team strove to accomplish a new kind of design, one that would – in a word – disrupt. Everything about the brand, colors and wrap design is meant to be visually disruptive. Ignoring the usual attributes of carpet cleaners – magicians with wands, dogs on carpets, etc. – I came to the conclusion that the real challenge was thinking about the business, using a different vantage point. Certainly the colors demanded attention, as well.

We thought of a great many ways to represent bubbles. Magnetic vinyl with clear bubbles affixed to them was something we considered early on. Then we thought of clear, solid domes, but didn’t want to risk those potentially flying off. We considered placing clear domes under the wrap itself, but I worried about aligning a domed bubble under a bubble printed on wrap film.

Perhaps because it was during the recent holidays, I stumbled on the idea of clear Christmas tree ornaments that hobbyists use and affixing them on top of the vinyl. I loved the idea of people being attracted to the bubbles– with the van either parked or driving– and trying to figure out how they could work. At a price point of 30 for $10 Bath Bomb Mold ornaments on Amazon, we weren’t risking a lot by trying out the idea. We have collaborated with Chris Prenovost and his team at azpro (Avondale, AZ) many times before. They tested the ornaments with several adhesives until they found a good fit.


Another angle of KickCharge's creation for The Carpet Chemist.
Another angle of KickCharge's creation for The Carpet Chemist.

Or maybe it’s the other way around. We design all the wraps we do 100% in vector in Illustrator. For this process, we hand drew the illustration, then worked on the placement on the truck. To best use the available space, we created two poses for the mascot, one for the side and one for the rear. In doing this, we were better able to use the available space. Our initial design, with printed bubbles, looked fine; the 3D bubbles look fantastic.

After all the vinyl was printed, we realized the stripe through the corner of the driver’s side was approximately ¼ in. off in height. Completely my fault, and the kind of thing that happens at midnight when rushing to prep files on an 11-in. MacBook. We didn’t have time to fix that back panel, but Chris’ team and our crew have worked on so many projects before that we knew that by splitting the difference of that ¼ in., it wouldn’t be noticeable. After all, this van had 3D bubbles to look at.


Seven days prior to launching and with no other advertising (we were finishing up at the client’s site!), our client had 12 people stop him at various locations (parking lots, traffic lights, etc.) and ask for his business card. Out of those 12, six booked jobs immediately. This instantaneous response shows that the wrap does what we set out to do – disrupt and command attention.

Jobs like this are cool, and this one will be tough beat. I’d like to experiment more with 3D wrap elements, and eventually, I’m going to find my way to combine LED into a wrap while keeping it feasible for fleet uses. Regardless of all the bells and whistles, every successful wrap design starts with a solid brand. Without it, you’ll never build a disruptive wrap. Fit in or stand out. Choose wisely.



Chris Prenovost, vice president and install team lead at azpro (Avondale, AZ) enjoys working with Dan Antonelli and the KickCharge team. “A lot of ad agencies struggle to deliver practical ideas that are ready to go,” Chris said. “Dan’s team does a great job getting us print-ready work.” In return, azpro sends color proofs on 3M wrap film to both KickCharge and their clients for added assurance. Sometimes azpro and KickCharge collaborate throughout the design process, “to ensure that the ideas they have dreamt up are actually achievable,” Chris said. Obviously, the 3D bubbles of The Carpet Chemist project popped up in this category.

Chris’ team put several options to the test. “We tried everything from glass beads to large glass circles,” he said, “and we settled on modifying Bath Bomb Mold [ornaments] to fit the application.” Chris’ team cut the flat edges of the ornaments down, leaving semi-spheres. They printed the film for the wrap on azpro’s HP Latex 3000 using 3M IJ180Cv3 vinyl and Scotchcal 8518 laminate, then adhered the spheres to the body of the van using clear silicone after the wrap was applied.

“We didn’t decide on the best way to proceed until after the install had already started,” Chris said. “Due to the quick turn [six days from artwork release to install], we ended up having to next day air the Bath Bomb bubbles to our installer, who we had flown to Louisville.” With the final modifications made in the parking lot, azpro’s installer “bubble wrapped” The Carpet Chemist van and started a chain reaction.

–Mark Kissling


Signs of the Times December 2018

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