LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food here is throwing new light on its ice cream cakes and frozen decorated cakes and pastries.
The 161-unit chain is in the process of installing neon-like, 6-foot by 2-foot signs over two-tier cases that display these items in its bakery departments.
The signs use Luminite, a translucent, acrylic gel that is molded into three-dimensional lettering and illustrations. The entire sign then is back-lit with a fluorescent tube that gives it the look of neon, said Bill Jones, fixture designer for Giant.
But using the material, which is made by Toronto-based Luminart, is dramatically less expensive than neon, Jones said.
"The cost is almost 50% less, and it's maintenance-free. You're not always changing tubes that inevitably get broken, as you would with neon," Jones said, adding that he never considered using neon for this application.
Previously, Giant had used a variety of signs above the 6-foot frozen cake cases that face the service bakery counter in most stores. In some, traditional, non-lighted signs were used. Others had signs with lettering that was routed out and back-lit, but the surface was two-dimensional.
"With these, it's the third dimension and the colors that make them so eye-catching. The colors make you think of ice cream and the gel that's used to decorate cakes," Jones said.
"The lettering that calls attention to frozen pastries is a real light frosty-looking blue. It almost looks like ice," he added.
The major colors on the signs are red, white and blue, in keeping with the general color scheme in Giant stores.
"We looked at prototypes that used different colors, such as orange lettering on a teal background, but decided to stick with store colors," Jones said. "The background is dark, royal blue, which makes the lighter colored letters and illustrations stand out particularly well," Jones added.
The signs say, "Ice Cream Cakes, Frozen Pastries," and feature a stylized illustration of a decorated cake and a 15-inch by 15-inch color photo of a birthday cake. The photo, a back-lighted transparency, is removable so it can be replaced with a photo of a seasonal or holiday cake, Jones said.
"At Easter, we could use a photo of a cake decorated for that holiday or, at Valentine's Day, a heart-shaped cake," he added.
Bakery officials at Giant declined to comment on the chain's move to draw more shopper interest to its frozen baked products in the store. An industry source, however, told SN that the products made at Giant's central bakery are such impulse items that it makes sense to call maximum attention to them.
The signs are designed to look exciting, to attract attention even to the bakery itself. "They create an almost circus-like effect. It looks like something is happening," Jones said.
A border across the bottom of the sign features large red and white checks, bringing to mind the flags used at auto races.
Fifty of the signs are currently in place and 61 more are set to be installed within a few weeks, said Earl Seth Sr., chief executive officer of National Graphics, Baltimore, the company that produced the signs for Giant.
Jones said other departments at Giant are considering Luminite to spotlight products and departments. Among those looking at prototype signs now is the deli department. "They may be used over the rotisserie chicken cases and at cappuccino bars," he said.