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October 2009
Creating A Mirror Image
By Casey Jacobus

     LuxuryTec defies easy classification. It is neither a marketing agency nor a product manufacturer. According to its founder and president Brian Reid, “It is a technology company that utilizes various state of the art techniques to allow brands to reach their consumers in untraditional but valuable ways.”

     Senior Vice President Ken Kovasala calls LuxuryTec “a media technology company that makes some cool and innovative products that reach consumers in some measurable and memorable ways.”

     The company started with an idea that surfaced one summer day in 2005 when Reid was playing with his four children on Lake Norman. “Why would a boat manufacturer sell boats for thousands of dollars and then let its buyers go to a marine shop to outfit those boats?” Reid wondered to himself. “Why has no one licensed life jackets or boat fenders?”

     Reid was able to use new technology to create brand-identifying boat fenders and to match their color exactly with those used by the boat manufacturers. Chris Craft became his first customer.

     “We saw the life vest and boat fender covers as a blank canvas and set about to show boat manufacturers how they could capture more revenue at their point of sale,” explains Reid. “The success of the project fortified our belief in the need for our unique approach to branding, and LuxuryTec was born.”

     LuxuryTec touts an array of cutting-edge services, custom-designed to assist clients in driving incremental brand equity and generating new revenue sources, as well as creating customer satisfaction and loyalty. Some of its projects have even resulted in patented products.

 

Who’s in the mirror?

     Reid was born in Atlanta, raised in both the Carolinas and in Richmond, Virginia. A southerner who went north to college, he was captain of the football team at the University of Connecticut. When he graduated in 1994, he discovered “that the NFL didn’t need any slow guys” and went into the financial services industry.

     At the time he got the inspiration that led to the founding of LuxuryTec, he was managing 250 employees in an executive sales position out of Atlanta. In the three short years since then, LuxuryTec has gone from one employee (Reid) to seven, including his wife Gennifer, who is director of operations.

     Since its inception, LuxuryTec has created a number of unique products, many of which encourage interaction with consumers. Chief among these is an advertising product for restroom mirrors. Dubbed “Mirror Image,” there is a sensor in the product which changes the mirror from a mirror image of the patron to a colorful backlit brand advertisement. When someone moves within the range of the sensor, which can be adjusted from one to five feet, it becomes a mirror. When they move away and outside the sensor’s range, the mirror changes back to a backlit ad or promotion.

     What follows is exactly the type of brand adoption LuxuryTec and its clients are looking for: the viewer becomes actively involved with the brand itself. Once confronted with the magic mirror, it becomes very difficult to ignore and demands another look. LuxuryTec has recently signed agreements with Clear Channel Airports Group, as well as ISP Sports that represents 60 college stadiums and arenas.

     “We know that people are guaranteed to do two things at a sporting event,” says Reid, “go to their seats and visit the restroom. Mirror Image is a product which the venue, our client, can offer to their sponsors that is sure to reach every attendee at an event.”

     The images in the mirror are easy to change, allowing a sponsor to match up their product or message with the targeted audience or consumer attending the event. So, if Monday night is a basketball game, Coke will showcase Diet Coke and Sprite, for instance. If Tuesday night is Disney on Ice, they’ll run Vitamin Water. If there is a tractor pull on Wednesday, the product displayed in the mirror could be Monster Energy drink.

     What’s more, the sponsor could choose to direct the advertising to a gender specific audience, displaying ads for Old Spice in the men’s room and Secret deodorant in the women’s room, for example. LuxuryTec has also added an optional fragrance component, allowing the mirror to dispense the aroma of the product being shown in the mirror. If there is a display for a brand of coffee in the mirror, the room may dispense a  coffee scent.

     “Fragrance has been proven to elicit memories that create an emotional response,” explains Reid. “University studies have proven that the olfactory sense is the strongest of the five human senses in determining purchase behavior. These studies show that consumers will spend more time viewing a brand that has a pleasant aroma, thus increasing their recall and recognition of the product.”

 

What’s on the wall?

     Using a technology that allows high resolution imagery to be imprinted on a woven fabric the company calls Fabric HD, LuxuryTec has developed several other innovative products largely geared toward outdoor sporting events. The competitive advantages of Fabric HD are that it is more durable, flexible and effective than alternatives, as well as being more economical and eco-friendly.

     SeatTux, a seat cover for sports arena pull-down seats, is one of the Fabric HD product lines. Constructed with the washable performance fabric and professionally engineered to fit the seats in a specific venue, SeatTux has the flexibility to be customized with any image or message. Each SeatTux can be easily removed as a souvenir for the fan or installed semi-permanently.

     Another product created and patented by LuxuryTec is the JohnyTux, a removable reusable custom fit jacket constructed for portable restrooms. Using Fabric HD technology, the jacket provides another opportunity for sponsors to generate revenue by selling the advertising space, while also eliminating the costs involved with trying to hide portable restrooms at concerts, sporting events, festivals or other outdoor events.

     LuxuryTec has also utilized the new technology to create a product it calls “Framezilla,” in which aluminum framing structures are covered with interchangeable fabric images. At sporting events Framezilla delivers crystal clear imagery, which doesn’t wrinkle and eliminates glare. This is particularly valuable when television cameras are recording the event.

     LuxuryTec has also developed the technology that allows the printed fabric to stick to almost any surface, from fabric, wallpaper or drywall to stainless steel, wood and stone. The wall graphic application is dubbed Wallzilla. This product line is comparable to competitive products such as Fathead, but is superior for its durability, flexibility and workability.

     Wallzilla can be removed and replaced hundreds of times over its life without losing adhesion. Easy to install, remove and transport, Wallzilla allows for brand campaigns and visual marketing to be changed frequently. It can be used on any surface, indoors or out, without using nails, screws, duct tape or other traditional hanging mechanism. It doesn’t damage the walls or leave any sticky residue behind when removed.

     “It’s as easy as peel and stick,” confirms Reid.

     LuxuryTec has recently announced collaboration with Maps.com, a leading supplier of high quality maps and related products, to develop large-format wall maps. These maps will be used for business, educational and individual purposes. The adhesive Wallzilla maps will offer users a more versatile option than the traditional paper product. Again, the large maps can be applied to any surface, then removed and re-placed without damaging either the wall or the map.

     “We don’t want to be in the map business,” explains Reid. “Our goal was to find the most experienced and well-respected map aggregator in the industry and provide them with the technology to market a new product.”

     Wallzilla can be used in a large number of interactive ways. Current plans call for its use in advertising posters and promotional items, direct mail, print advertising, and product packaging, such as DVD and CD covers, shoe boxes, etc. The product can also be scented to match any aroma; LuxuryTec can produce a Wallzilla that looks exactly like a cup of coffee and smells like one too.

 

Who else?

     Collaboration with other companies is the keystone to LuxuryTec’s almost-instant success. One of its first partnerships was built with Repucom International, a brand and broadcast analysis provider. A global leader in the measurement of sports broadcast content, Repucom International was able to determine a value for LuxeryTec’s products through an analysis of the potential brand exposure.

     “When we took our seat covers to Repucom International, they ranked them as high as anything they have ever measured,” says Reid. “Getting an ROI analysis prior to investing gives our clients a measurable solution before they commit financially.”

      Other important partners for LuxuryTec are Advanced Digital Textiles and Shutterfly, Inc. Advanced Digital Textiles, a Monroe-based company, has the expertise to electronically create an exact reproduction of the most complex and original artwork. In addition to helping Luxury Tec turn concept into reality, Advanced Digital Textiles handles all of Luxury Tec’s fabric printing needs.

     Other printing needs are assigned to Shutterfly, a California company which maintains a second facility in Charlotte. Shutterfly is able to combine its on-demand printing expertise with state-of-the-art equipment to print personalized marketing materials.

     “By assembling a group of industry-leading partners, we are able to provide our clients with solutions that are measurable, memorable and of the utmost quality,” asserts Reid. “We recognize the importance our clients place on receiving a return on every dollar invested, particularly in today’s environment.”

 

Where are we going?

     LuxuryTec appears to have a bright future. Starting up during an economic downturn, the company has relied on the latest technology to succeed. Its next challenge, according to Reid, is to continue growing. While LuxuryTec has achieved its current success totally through word-of-mouth, Reid says a public relations initiative is coming soon.

     And Reid, whose vision started things moving just three years ago, has plenty of new ideas. He foresees many new adaptations for Mirror Image. The company is already experimenting with a countertop vanity mirror and a shoe mirror at the request of two retailers. Reid predicts more uses for Mirror Image in dressing rooms in department stores, displays in malls, and other retail locations.

     Another new direction may be the growing home improvement market. LuxuryTec has already patented a Wallzilla tile sticker which allows consumers to design with an exact tile replica sticker before choosing their wall tile. Wallzilla can also be adapted for interactive direct mail campaigns. When combined with the fragrance option, it can be used in many innovative ways.

     Kovasala has complete confidence in LuxuryTec’s future. Impressed by the company’s potential, he joined the management staff just eight months ago, leaving a job as vice president of sales with McGregor Golf. At LuxuryTec, he handles the company’s relationships with business partners like Clear Channel Sports, Titleist Golf, Footlocker and McDonalds. He, too, is prepared to see the company flourish.

     “Brian is young, bright and energetic,” he explains. “LuxuryTec is not a mature company; it has plenty of room to grow. The sky’s the limit.”

 

Casey Jacobus is a Lake Norman-based freelance writer.
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