A Cause for Wrapping

A wrap specialist employs its talents to provide aid for a charitable cause.

John and Torri Westmoreland are the co-owners and co-operators of In-Depth Wraps (www.indepthwraps.com), a wrap specialist in Ball Ground, Georgia. Not only are they highly passionate about the art of designing and installing vehicle graphics, but they’re adamant about growing this segment of the industry, as well. (Note: The couple’s “Stick2It” efforts to expose high school graphic arts students to the vehicle graphics industry was profiled in our January 2009 issue.)

The Westmorelands have been wrapping vehicles since 2001—and currently work on everything from small businesses with one vehicle to local and national fleet campaigns (including a 700-vehicle decal project for the U.S. Army). Recent projects include wrapping the van fleet for the kid-friendly Webkinz™ Road Trip and a vintage Airstream travel trailer prototype for the Little Debbie “Miles of Smiles” experiential marketing campaign.

However, this past February, John, at age thirty-seven, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Instead of sitting back, the couple decided to not only fight the disease but to also use their business and skills to promote awareness about cancer and raise funds to find cures for it. “It’s the continuing research that leads to a 95 percent cure rate for patients John’s age with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” says Torri.

John and Torri decided to treat this diagnosis as a customer. “We viewed this as a really demanding client that took up five hours of our time every Friday,” says Torri (regarding the time spent each week in chemotherapy).

This past August, the Westmorelands began the Stick it 2 Cancer campaign with the goal of initially raising $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual “Light the Night Walk” in October. “After John’s diagnosis, we made a commitment to each other as a husband-and-wife team to work through it, grow our business, and make something great happen because of it,” says Torri. “So we created Team In-Depth for the Light the Night Walk and invited everyone to join us.”

Knowing how effectively vehicle graphics make an impact, the Westmorelands started by wrapping their Honda Element shop vehicle to spotlight Stick it 2 Cancer using 3M™ Controltac™ Plus Graphic Film with Comply™ Performance Series 180C. In-Depth drives the wrapped vehicle to sponsors’ locations and offers photo shoots with it for local donations of $250 and above. Then they promote these sponsors through the Stick it 2 Cancer Facebook page.

While Stick it 2 Cancer is a new endeavor, In-Depth has actually been working with LLS for more than eight years now. “We started working with LLS, because we didn’t want any more kids to have cancer and [this organization] funded Leukemia research. Not long after we started our company, we contacted LLS and asked if we could provide golf tournament signage. Now, we create all of the banners and signs for all five Light the Night walks in Georgia.”

The couple has found success in another promotional avenue—The Stick it 2 Cancer Facebook page. John and Torri utilize the page to connect cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers; promote fundraising events; and generate ideas for T-shirts and campaigns. In a little under two months, the page has more than 1,700 followers. “It’s actually begun competing with the vehicle wrap as the star of the campaign,” says Torri. (Note: The site is located at www.facebook.com/stickit2cancer.)

The Westmorelands have also teamed up with printwear provider Big Frog® Custom T-Shirts & More (www.bigfrog.com/cumming) in Cumming, Georgia to produce twenty-five (and counting) unique T-shirt designs for people who “have, had, or hate” cancer. What makes this line so special to the Westmorelands is that the lineup features irreverent slogans to fit many different themes and interests. (Note: The Westmorelands are firm believers in using fun to counter this serious disease.) Examples include: “Cancer Sucks!” (featuring a vampire graphic); “Cancer Bites. Bite Back” (featuring a shark graphic); and “Sack Cancer” (featuring a football player). “We also have T-shirts with messages that resonate with patients, like ‘You think you’re having a bad hair day?’ and ‘Cancer. Been there. Done That. Got the T-shirt,’” adds Torri.

The Westmorelands use their Facebook page to also solicit ideas and suggestions. “We’re finding that Facebook is a great place for bantering back-and-forth with ideas,” says Torri.

Big Frog handles all the apparel production and prints designs one-off to each customer’s specification using its direct-to-garment Brother GT-541 with a water-based fabric dye. Customers can choose the size, style, color, and design to find the option that suits them best. “You can also get these T-shirts on our Web site with the link to our Facebook site,” says Torri. “Our Webmaster Chris Jordan (www.thechrisjordan.com) worked fervently on setting that up.”

Although In-Depth works strictly with wraps, for Stick it 2 Cancer, the Westmorelands create event banners as well. All of this printing (as well as the Element wrap) is produced on a Mimaki JV3 solvent-based inkjet printer. Meanwhile the couple’s friends Brandywine Printing (www.brandywineprinting.com) in Cumming, Georgia handle other promotional materials—such as business cards, fliers, magnets, and specialized gun targets—via its Canon imagePRESS C6000 color digital press.

The Westmorelands have found that many of their customers are utilizing unique avenues to make a difference with the Stick it 2 Cancer campaign. “Commercial plumbing company RooterPLUS! offered $3.33 from each August invoice to the cause, with a donation totaling over $1,500,” says Torri. “Another client [painting contractor] All About Painting raffled an iPad specifically for this cause.

“The Bulls Eye Marksman Gun Club hosted a ‘Shoot to Kill (Cancer)’ event this past September. while Lenny’s Sub Shops and SmokeJack sold balloons promoting this campaign in their restaurants. Lakewood Pharmacy sits on our planning committee, and other companies gave flat cash donations.”

For sign shops and sign makers interested in getting involved with local charities, the Westmorelands say it’s easy to do so—all you have to do is call and find out their needs. “Our industry definitely has unique talents to offer non-profits. Seek out groups that follow your passions or pull at your heartstrings,” says Torri. “You’ll be more excited to do something wonderful for them. And if you can’t find an organization that feels right, start your own!”

Many times giving back has a way of coming back full circle to the giver, as well. “Giving back to the community, in addition to being the right thing to do and the best way to do business, is some of the best marketing you can do,” adds John. “People want to do business with real people. Show the world your personal passions and you’ll find other folks who share them.”

After six months of chemo treatments, John finds himself in remission, and the couple attributes this largely to research funded by LLS. “But there are children facing years of treatment,” says John, “and although it’s not an easy road, six months is really only a moment in our lives.”

When asked how readers can get involved with Stick it 2 Cancer, the Westmorelands offer several suggestions: follow the organization on Facebook and/or Twitter, post a link to its team page anywhere someone might see it, and make donations to LLS through the charity’s Web site (www.stickit2cancer.com). “And stay tuned,” they say, “because you just never know what might happen when you put your marketing expertise to work for a great cause.” b

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