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Heading Down South

Metromedia Technologies creates tropical-themed billboards for Carnival Cruise Lines.




We all know that when it starts to get cold up north, flocks of birds start their journey down south to the land of sun and sand – often doing so in an inverted “V” formation. And for most of us, we tend to want to join them, leaving behind the perpetual freezing temperatures and snow.

In order to get people even more interested in heading south for the winter just like our winged friends (and taking a cruise vacation), Carnival Cruise Lines’ paired with creative agency Arnold Worldwide ( and Metromedia Technologies (MMT, to create some tropical-themed billboards.

“It was through Arnold that we got involved with the project about this time last year,” says Gerry McLean, MMT’s account director on the project. “We had anywhere from five or six unique concepts on the table for them. This [3D parrots migrating south] was everyone’s favorite.”

Arnold created the design for the billboard by researching images of parrots. They did a 2D rendering showing the parrots in the ‘V’ formation above the top of the board and then MMT came in to make the parrots lifelike.

“The parrots were actually formed with a steel armature on the inside, basically wrapped in urethane foam, and then carved to shape by hand, airbrushed, and hard-shell coated with a plasticizer,” says McLean. “So they actually had a rigid structure in the end because the urethane foam hardens to a pretty hard shell. You have to coat it in order for it to withstand the elements.”

The birds were as wide as 5 feet and as long as 4 feet, and each weighed in at about 10 to 15 pounds. “It was a pretty serious wing span,” says McLean. “Significantly larger than an actual parrot.”


MMT then got to work with outdoor company Van Wagner Communications ( and a city-certified engineer to see if the idea could truly be made possible, considering outdoor-advertising limitations.

“It just so happened for this particular location we were posted right off the West Side Highway in New York,” says McLean. “The extensions we used in order to prop those parrots along the top edge of the board was allowable. That was square one of getting through the process – making sure that not only is the design doable and that it can be executed safely, but also that the zoning for that area allows for that kind of prop. It almost went too smoothly.”

The billboard graphics themselves were printed on MMT’s own proprietary drum printer, which uses acrylic-base CMYK paint, outputting onto the company’s 12-ounce billboard vinyl. Four sections were produced, totaling 21 x 61 feet, including the wrap around the sides, top, and bottom. MMT”s drum-printer technology allowed it to join the panels and add the pockets pre-print. The piece was finished via a Fiab RF welder.

“Billboards are such second nature to us,” says McLean. “The entire process was probably two days long, tops.”

The finished project was an eye-catching winner. “The way that the uplighting was set on it, you almost couldn’t see any of the poles supporting the birds. So you just see this perfect ‘V’ formation,” says McLean. “It worked out pretty much exactly how everyone wanted.”




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