The all-new 2007 Ford Edge has created quite a lot of excitement since its arrival in December and it will be generating a different kind of excitement for commuters in nine of America’s largest cities when they catch a glimpse of the new Edge teetering precariously on the edge of a large billboard.
Not to fear. The 3D billboards are part of a marketing campaign that will include 75 billboards in total nationwide. The nine 3D boards will be installed in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The remaining boards will be a mix of a two-dimensional version of the 3D boards and traditional billboards.
Each of the nine Edges is hand carved from Styrofoam. When the shape is finalized the foam Edge is painted with Urethane giving the foam a hard outer surface that can be sanded and painted.
"The 3D models are attention-grabbing and really drive home the point that Ford has an all-new crossover called Edge," says Dave Sanabria, SUV/CUV Marketing Communications Manager. "The cool thing about the 3D model is that we’ve pushed the limits of traditional outdoor boards and we’ve taken it to the next dimension – literally."
Wheels, tires and side mirrors are made separately. Here the wheels and tires have been sprayed with Urethane and are being finished before painting.
Each 3D Edge is actually a full-size scale foam model, created by MMT, the designers of the artwork for the billboards. MMT specializes in large-format visuals. World Series fans may have seen the large image of a baseball crashing into Detroit’s Renaissance Center. MMT has done similar building murals as large as 75,000 square feet.
Prop Art of Detroit, Michigan is sculpting the 3D Edge models in their downtown studio. The company has spent the last twenty years supplying clients with unusual three-dimensional display properties including the giant purple octopus that drops from the rafters of Joe Louis Arena, home to the Detroit Red Wings hockey team.
The nine 3D Edge models are hand carved from Styrofoam. Prop Art artists, work from photographs of the actual vehicle, blocking in the basic shape by gluing four-inch thick sheets of foam together then carving the shape of the body and details like the distinctive three-bar grille from the foam.
The Styrofoam chassis is built around the structural steel framework that will attach the Edge to the billboard.
The finished foam bodies and the extraneous parts like wheels, tires and side mirrors, which are made separately, are sprayed with Urethane, creating a hard surface that can be sanded smooth and painted. When finished, the bodies are primed black and sent off to a local bump shot where they are painted in factory correct Blazing Copper with chrome three-bar grilles and chrome 18" wheels.
“It’s important to have the proper wheel styles, details and colors,” says David Paschke, Account Director for MMT, “The billboards may spur potential customers and you want the vehicle to representative of what’s available.”
Once the bodies are complete, they are fitted to a urethane-sprayed Styrofoam chassis. It’s built around a steel support structure that includes the mounting structures and the hookups that will allow cranes to lift the vehicles into position. The wheels and tires are added last along with real windshield and back window wipers, the only true Edge parts on the models.
One of the nine Edges has been shrink-wrapped and waiting to be crated before shipment to Atlanta, Georgia.
Each Edge 3D model takes about three weeks to complete and weighs about 600 pounds without the steel structure and nearly 1,200 pounds fully built and ready to install. They come complete with an engineering certification; a requirement from many billboard companies, assuring that each foam sculpture will stay put.
“These were built with a lot of extra detail with the intent of being repurposed, says Paschke. “A lot of time if they’re being done just for billboards we don’t have to put in a lot of detail. But Ford wanted to be able to reuse these, so we added as much detail as possible.”
Ford’s foam Edge fleet will spend about four months aloft before accepting their next, yet undetermined assignment.