DDC’s 'Full Picture' Work on Air Canada Centre Digital Screen Project Earns Industry Honors

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Digital signage consultancy DDC named finalist in 2010 Apex Awards for excellence in project work in fast emerging sector; cited for innovative $3M screen network at home of Toronto’s Maple Leafs and Raptors

The strategy, planning and execution of one of the most sophisticated digital screen networks in the sports facility world, at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, has earned veteran digital signage consultancy Digital Display & Communications (DDC) a 2010 awards nomination at the digital signage industry’s largest event.

Digital Signage Expo announced nominations on Jan. 28, across eight categories, for excellence in specific elements of the fast emerging industry.

DDC was cited, along with its chosen software supplier Omnivex, for its comprehensive work on the $3 million installation, which was switched on for fans of the Toronto Maples Leafs and Toronto Raptors in Fall, 2009. The project was built around a media communications plan that saw the fan experience dramatically enhanced, sponsor messaging opportunities boosted and a media sales plan developed that will see the building owner, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, recover its investment in roughly two years.

The facility now has more than 320 HD-quality video display monitors installed in a wide variety of configurations in the public areas. The screens serve several purposes, but many are replacing traditional backlit poster advertising boards, enabling MLSE to change messaging by event and on very short notice. Network digital screens give MLSE’s media department the ability to tailor advertisers and schedules by event and target audience.

The screen network was part of a massive $50 million facelift to the landmark facility, which is among the five busiest sports and events centers in the world. Screens are set in a variety of configurations and clusters to provide more presence and visual interest. At one newly renovated entry, 42 LCD flat panels are stitched together and other areas feature screen clusters. One area that was using still images for a history wall is now a cluster of different-sized and oriented screens, with rotating images and narratives on the images that can be heard if fans call designated numbers and listen using their mobile devices.

“It’s nice to get the industry recognition for the work, but it’s a tribute to MLSE’s vision and the latitude were we given to help them come up with something great,” said DDC president Stuart Kirkpatrick. “It looks as good as it does because of the work, enthusiasm and ideas MLSE’s own people put into the project. We knew once we really started working with them that this was going to be special, and it played out that way.”

DDC was initially engaged to help develop a baseline strategy for the project, using its Full Picture Workshop process. But that first work turned into much more, Kirkpatrick said, with various members of the DDC team helping develop everything from realistic media revenue forecasts and content programming concepts to guiding the vendor selection process and managing the installations. DDC is also doing some of the ongoing creative content work running on screens.

Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be presented in each category, with DDC and Omnivex finalists in sports facilities with a couple of technology giants: Cisco Systems for work at Miami’s Land Shark Stadium; and Sony Electronics for American Airlines Arena, also in Miami.

The winners will be announced at a banquet Feb. 24 in Las Vegas, during the trade show.

“Several people on the team were going to the DSE trade show anyway,” said Kirkpatrick, “but now we’re really looking forward to it! We learned a lot from the ACC experience, and we’d love to apply that to new projects in the sports and events center business.”

About Digital Display and Communications (DDC)
Digital Display & Communications is an integrated communications, strategy and solutions agency focused on helping companies launch and then run effective, sustainable digital signage networks. Using more than a decade of direct experience, DDC’s expert team helps client partners think through, design, build and manage award-winning programs. DDC is based on Waterloo, ON. For more information, visit http://www.thefullpicture.com.

About Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) is one of North America’s premier sports and entertainment organizations. MLSE owns the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, MLS’s Toronto FC, the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, Air Canada Centre and three digital channels — Leafs TV, Raptors NBA TV and GOLTV. Air Canada Centre is ranked as one of the top five entertainment venues in the world. It is home to Maple Leafs, Raptors, the Toronto Rock Lacrosse team and host to some of the best entertainers in the world. During its 10-year history Air Canada Centre has been recognized with more than 25 industry awards. For more information, visit http://www.theaircanadacentre.com.

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