His Dark Materials – Prints For A Parallel Universe

Sector: Mall Media, Various
Services: Install, Print, tension fabric frame

Over the years, PressOn have worked on some really fantastic projects for clients working in film and television – but when we were contacted by Limited Space (who were working with the BBC), we were asked to produce a series of graphics that were truly ‘out of this world…’


The BBC’s His Dark Materials has been one of the most hotly anticipated and highly-discussed television releases for some time – Phillip Pullman’s books are beloved to many, and his close involvement with the show, along with a stellar cast, outstanding art direction, and quality production have made it the TV event of the year. Only the most exciting, dynamic, and unique outdoor advertising campaign would do it justice – which is why Limited Space got in touch with PressOn…

The Challenge

Possibly the most significant thing about His Dark Materials – both as a show and a series of novels – is their ability to transport readers and viewers to a world of magic, fantasy, science fiction, and wonder, all at once. Limited Space knew the production had the potential to capture the minds of the nation, so a run-of-the-mill marketing campaign simply wasn’t going to cut it. 

They wanted to reach the hearts and minds – as well as the eyes – of consumers who came across the adverts, which meant finding ways to ensure their campaign really made a lasting impression. Limited Space devised a series of concepts that would bring Lyra’s (the show’s main character) world to life in a multi-sensory, experiential way – and PressOn were tasked with bringing this idea to life…

The Concept

Limited Space worked with the BBC to devise a multi-format concept that was totally unique. Working in a range of shopping centres across the UK, including the Bullring & Grand Central, Lakeside, Derby, Watford and Bluewater, they planned a series of adverts across a wide range of printed media, many of which hadn’t been seen in these specific locations. They knew that in order to stand out, they had to do something that shoppers hadn’t seen…

This included an inspired ‘sensory’ lift experience. Lift graphics are something PressOn have worked on many times before, but for His Dark Materials, Limited Space didn’t want shoppers to just see the graphics, they wanted them to experience them. 

To achieve this, PressOn were supplied with ‘scent boxes’ and ‘sound boxes’, which filled the interior lifts at Arndale Winter Gardens and the Birmingham Bullring with the smell of peppermint, as audio featuring the show’s cast played, and visitors took in the stunning printed graphics PressOn produced.

The Prints

When it came to the actual prints for this project, there were a lot of different factors to juggle simultaneously. This project required a wide range of printed graphics, installed in a number of different ways, produced across various different substrates. PressOn are well-versed in completing this kind of complex projects, and so were contracted to produce the media for the campaign. 

Across the different locations, we produced a combination – in a wide range of sizes and styles – of lift graphics, floor graphics, window graphics, wall graphics, and fabric prints. These ranged from massive wall prints of the characters to mysterious black lift doors with the text ‘One girl will change worlds’.

A few highlights of the project include:

The Bullring 

The Bullring and Grand Central in Birmingham is a massive shopping centre, perfect for large scale outdoor advertising – and the prints we put together for Limited Space made fantastic use of the space. In particular, the main wall and lift area we printed for included a massive set of graphics printed onto a non-PVC fabric, at nearly 8 metres by 7 metres! These were so big, a scissor lift was required for the installation…

We also printed vinyl for the pillar to the left of the graphics, at 2 x 3 metres, but we had to use a different laminate material for the lift doors – these needed to be durable to withstand constant use. PressOn used a removable matt laminate, which is our substrate of choice for this kind of installation.

The finishing touches for the Bullring included a set of floor graphics, printed to look like fresh bear snow footprints. During the preparations for the project, PressOn worked closely with Limited Space, creating a range of test prints to ensure the final prints matched their expectations – they opted for a clear vinyl with a non-slip laminate (for safety), which we printed, and then cut to shape. 

Manchester Arndale 

At the Manchester Arndale, PressOn put together another set of huge printed graphics – but this time to be installed on a glass surface. In order to produce these window graphics, we used a removable self adhesive vinyl with a matt laminate – the total size of the area, which hadn’t been used for this kind of marketing before, was over 9 metres by 4 metres – for a jaw-dropping result.

Tension fabric banners

Tension fabric systems have become a hugely popular print medium; they’re an effective, striking, and environmentally-friendly way to communicate a message (they’re completely reusable!) – and for this campaign, PressOn printed a range of these innovative formats across the various different venues. 

PressOn printed a series of eye-catching hanging tension fabric banners for the BBC. We produced 2 banners for each of the venues – the Bullring, Bluewater, Derby, Lakeside & Watford – each banner was double-sided, which meant we needed to produce 4 graphics for each venue. 

Want to know more?

Projects like these are what set PressOn apart from other print specialists, and whatever the requirements, our experts and in-house project managers are always up to the challenge. If you’d like to know more about this project, or would like to discuss a printing project of your own, simply head over to our contact page and get in touch via the form!

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