Can You Judge a Wrap by its Cover?

Jay Burfield, from FESPA UK, writes a question piece on how effectively we can judge vehicle wrapping on photos alone when it comes to awards.


What an amazing few days at Wrap Fest 2023. As an association, it is great to have an impartial look over the vinyl wrapping industry as we expand our FESPA UK membership and begin to welcome vinyl wrappers into our community. Wrap Fest was a great opportunity for our team to understand the intricate process of wrapping, including vehicles of all shapes and sizes and both internal and external architectural wrapping.

When understanding the world of wrap there are so many factors to take in; the type of wrap, the different types of jobs, tools, and locations…the list goes on! 


But one thing that was clear was the level of skill and craftmanship involved. It may seem on the surface that wrapping can be picked up by almost any man and his dog with access to a few rolls of vinyl, a Stanley knife and a car or table they want to make glam, but this is far from the truth. There is a real skill and trade within wrap. Techniques and technology are constantly changing and it’s increasingly hard to get to the top and stay at the top. Constant exposure to social media and growing platforms such as TikTok and Instagram can be both a wrapper’s best friend and biggest enemy. 


Everyone loves to see an awesome job on TikTok or Instagram but what is the truth behind that picture or video we all love to see? Will the vinyl fail and lift one week after application? What does that car really look like underneath the layer of vinyl, maybe deeply scratched or dented? The truth is, as a viewer we don’t really know. The team at FESPA UK took the chance to try our hand at having a go at cutting vinyl on the surface of a balloon, with the help of The Wrap Institute’s interactive competition, aiming to cut the vinyl and keep the balloon from popping, in the quickest time. This highlighted just how skilful you have to be – vinyl isn’t something that can be just picked up after a week-long course.


So, with that in mind, what is the true value of an award given based on a picture or video submission or the recognition of a ‘like’ or ‘share’ on social media? The Wrap Masters contest held at WrapFest was just one of the many global stages of the competition, which is finalised at the Global Print Expo every year. This makes it currently the only globally recognised accolade for the wrapping community. Wrap masters is closely and independently judged, with great attention to detail, with any mistakes or imperfections closely examined and outlined with marker pens. Because the judging is done onsite, impartially and from someone with years of industry know-how this award carries such high prestige and is globally recognised. 


With such an intricate and time-consuming competition process, is it right to ‘judge a book by its cover’ and recognise great work through social media images or online award submissions? Is the judging process worthy of the craftsmanship and skill involved in wrapping?  


Justin Pate, owner of The Wrap Institute and lead wrapper for Avery Dennison commented: “Social media is one of the best ways to promote vehicle wraps whether it’s colour change, commercial or PPF.  Yet, it has a bit of a shadow in that what customers see online, whether it’s a finished wrap or a video of someone doing some “superhero wrapping”, doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of wrapping.  Those one-piece, seamless door jambs with the doors removed from the car or wrapping a motorcycle in one piece look great on camera.  Yet, anyone who is a professional knows that to properly install them requires next-level prep and top install skills.  This, naturally, means higher prices and longer install times that customers don’t understand.  “That person on Instagram wrapped that helmet with a vacuum pump in 5 seconds.  What do you mean it costs x-amount?”   So, what to do about this?  Go with it and turn that shadow into light.  This is a great opportunity to educate the customer about the potential and especially the limits of wrapping film.  Explain to your customer that anyone can wrap like they do on social media and what no one sees on social media is when those wraps fail.  Do a trash can demo for them or let them try and wrap a mirror so they get connected to the process.  So, in short, a customer who gets excited about wrapping from social media is a good thing.  Educating that same customer about wrapping is even better.”


Chris Edwards, Director of CVI Group said: “On judging any form or wrap from a photo or video is that it can hide a multitude of errors. The process in which it has been applied is not known, the tools used are not known and the materials are not even known. It’s easy to say it is or has been a certain way, but how do we truly know? Has a blade been used to cut on the vehicle, and if so, has it cut the paint? Has it been post-heated? Has a cast product even been used? All these variables, albeit only a few described, could easily be hidden through photos or videos. The Wrap Masters work very well in terms of judging due to it being done in person with real-time examinations.”


In addition to this, Paige Walton, trainer and educator at The Vehicle Wrapping Academy added: “Cameras do not show the real finish of a wrap. Wraps were originally created to stand 2 metres away and assess but this has evolved over the years to be a ‘paint-like alternative’. Photos online can be heavily edited which in turn changes the actual colour of the wrap again offering unrealistic expectations to customers. We need to find a realistic middle point, but social media does not help!”


Instead of judging the work by picture or video would it not be better placed for an impartial trade association body to judge the craftsmanship of the individual wrapper in the form of an accredited training course, making sure that work is exceptional not just to the eye and on one occasion but also on every wrap that is installed?


Looking to the future it is important that FESPA UK continue to understand the ever-changing world of vinyl wrapping and continue to grow alongside our community. We look forward to expanding our membership further as we open it up to more vinyl wrappers, in the coming months we are looking forward to helping wrappers grow their businesses and developing our membership to aid them in the best way possible.


COOKIE POLICY | PRIVACY POLICY © 2022 Vinyl Pros Magazine Ltd. Company Number: 14368051


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