The year is 2017, and Birmingham has finally been chosen to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022. This is the largest sporting event to be awarded to an English city since the 2012 London Olympics.
Reigning prime minister Theresa May is quick to congratulate the bid team on their success, and the city celebrates what the West Midlands mayor calls a ‘fantastic Christmas present’ for the region.
The Games promise to bring massive economic benefits to the area, creating 22,000 jobs over four years whilst revitalising Birmingham’s image.
But first, the city must prepare.
Managing The Games
To manage the project successfully, Birmingham will need to rely on agencies, contractors and businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Relationships are built, terms are agreed and deals are struck.
Among the projects, including building new venues, handling traffic and identifying filming locations, lies a small but important assignment.
Street or city dressing refers to the decoration of a city for an event or public celebration. And, like a person, a city can dress to impress.
A person’s choice of clothes can convey their personality and style, whilst giving contextual clues about where they have come from, or where they are going.
Similarly, the banners, flags, wraps and screens which adorn a city can reveal its plans and its stature, its authority and ambition.
As the event draws closer, Birmingham reaches out to find suppliers who can prepare the city dressing for the event. From bus shelter posters to digital screens, all available advertising spaces are to be utilised, including the most abundant fixed advertising medium – lamp post banners.
Bay Media are the natural choice for raised advertising, being the incumbent supplier for Birmingham city council, with experience handling similar large scale events including the London Olympics.
Following talks to understand the locations involved and scale of messaging, Birmingham city council and Bay Media agree on a contract in the summer of 2021.
We are to handle the printing, installation and maintenance of 1,762 lamp post banners throughout the city and its surrounds, for the duration of The Games.
Lamp Post Banners
This is a major project with strict timelines, and so at Bay Media we begin our own preparations to ensure the project will be completed at the highest possible standard.
Initial tasks include establishing the deadlines for the various stages of the project. Given the quantity of banners to be printed and installed, we’ll need to have artwork fully signed off around 12 weeks out.
It is agreed that we will have a window of 28 days in which to complete the installation of all 1,762 lamp post banners. (An average of 63 banners per day!) So we get to work scheduling in our operations team for the dates in question.
Safe Street Dressing
City and street dressing is not as simple as it may first appear, with some key concerns to take care of during the process.
Firstly, health and safety. Our banners are to be installed at height, using highly secure bandings.
Raised banners often need to be installed in particularly windy locations, including urban canyons and beach fronts. Our bandings keep the banners upright, secure, and off of the heads of unsuspecting pedestrians.
As such, they require tools to be fitted securely, and so our operatives will use cherry pickers to complete the work safely.
Considering The Neighbours
Next, we must be considerate of others, taking care not to obstruct traffic, local businesses or the general public. For this reason, we carry out our work during the night, leaving residents a nice surprise on their morning walks. We also use cones to cordon off the area, to keep our contractors and passersby safe.
Covering All Bases
Finally we must plan out contingencies. We prepare detailed maps for our team to work to, with built-in backup sites should a given column be damaged or inaccessible. We make sure to have spare materials including brackets, bandings and damp-proof course (to protect the columns).
Throughout the duration of the installation process, our operatives keep us fully updated on progress. Feedback is provided on the status of the installation, with photographs taken of each and every banner.
At long last, after months of discussions and detailed planning, the installation commences on June 16th 2022.
By this point we have received, checked and printed every one of the banners. Deadlines are comfortably met by the responsive Birmingham Commonwealth team, who are well on top of the visuals for the event, with some fantastic creative work going into their branding and accompanying artwork.
Detailed street dressing maps have been drawn up and distributed to our team of hard working operatives. They begin working through the night time hours in order to complete the work within the allotted time frame.
We keep in close contact with our team, and after weeks of intensive installation, the street dressing is complete. From Birmingham to Warwick, and from Loughborough to Coventry – every location is dressed and ready for The Games.
In order to help keep the project environmentally friendly, we happily commit to planting a tree for every banner erected. As we wrap up the final installs, we reach out to our sustainability partner – The Future Forest Company.
In a few short weeks, 1,762 saplings ranging from native birches, oaks and pines are planted on the Glenaros estate on the east coast of Mull in Scotland.
Fancy some sightseeing? One of our freshly planted Sessile oak tree saplings can be found at this what3words address.
Dressed For Success
As The Games wrap up, and the banner removal process approaches, we look back at the results of the event.
Over five million people visited Birmingham’s city centre during the two weeks beginning July 25th. Almost half a million attended on Saturday 6th August alone!
These numbers are dwarfed however by the TV audiences – 28.6 million viewers tuned in via the BBC’s channels.
Both audience groups will have struggled to miss the event branding, with streets full of banners in the highest footfall areas, and hours of footage of outdoor events including marathons, triathlons, and the Queen’s Baton Relay.
The banners served many purposes, drawing attention to the event, its sponsors, mascot and branding. Street dressing on this scale ensures complete city-wide awareness of an event, promoting a vibrant, festive atmosphere. This is important for building engagement during a rare opportunity for a city to show itself off.
The 2022 Games came to an end on August 8th, and we immediately set to work removing the banners. Thankfully the removal process is faster than installation, but one which still requires careful planning and attention.
Our team removed the lamp post banners over a period of three weeks, with the final banners taken down by the end of August.
Following the success of The Games, we’re working with Birmingham again to support their PoliNations festival. Other major events on the horizon include the Rugby League World Cup across the UK and the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool. Watch this space!