VSA delivers the real McCoy to this year’s HOW Conference

Sappi Fine Paper North America makes a splash this week at the HOW Design Conference in Boston, highlighting their McCoy line of premium sheets with a unique promotion involving legendary designer and illustrator Bob Gill. It’s also the latest collaboration between Sappi and VSA Partners, which are both celebrating McCoy’s 16th year.

Gill will present a keynote at the conference called “Design as Idea,” encouraging attendees to learn ways to focus on original work and inspiring creative experiences. Over a long and storied career that includes co-founding Pentagram and writing a number of books, including his latest, Bob Gill, So Far, Gill has produced a number of iconic illustrations, including “Pencil Sharpener.” VSA and Gill collaborated to repurpose this image for a limited edition poster created solely for the conference. The poster includes the caption “Bob Gill. A Real McCoy on the Real McCoy.”

“Over the years, VSA has partnered with Sappi to help keep McCoy a leader in premium coated paper,” said Dana Arnett, VSA Partners’ CEO. “Alongside many other renowned agencies and printers, VSA continues to keep McCoy top of mind as the best choice for the creative community when it comes to premium sheets.”

Arnett’s history with McCoy dates back to 1997, when he suggested the Potlatch paper company launch a premium paper line with a nontraditional name and a lower price point than competing sheets. VSA had worked with Potlatch for several years on a number of other products, before taking the opportunity to deepen the relationship with the new line (and its first logo, seen above). “McCoy” came from the saying “the Real McCoy,” defining authenticity and quality. As Patti Groh, Sappi’s Director, Marketing Communications relayed to writer Emily Potts before last month’s AIGA Centennial Gala,”[The] name strategically drew upon the position, ‘The Real McCoy, the paper all others are judged by.’ It’s still relevant today,” after Potlatch’s coated paper lines were purchased by Sappi in 2002.

VSA arranged for McCoy to receive a splashy launch at “Jambalaya,” the AIGA National Conference held in New Orleans in 1997, involving a custom-painted Cadillac driven around town and Potlatch’s sales team wearing McCoy letter jackets during the conference; it could not have set the stage better for McCoy’s long-lasting popularity and reliability. As Groh said, “Many papers have come and gone over the last 20 years, but McCoy has stood the test of time, thanks to the design community.”

Since then, additional memorable McCoy promotions have hit the design world, thanks to VSA: the 2008 button book released to commemorate that year’s presidential election, the promotional book featuring Converse sneakers illustrated by world-renowned designers in Chicago for the AGI Conference in 2008, and the set of flashcards from 1998 featuring photographs from Francois Robert—all of which are shown above.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of the conference—always a remarkable gathering of the design community—and to celebrate the anniversary of McCoy’s creation with Bob, Dana and VSA,” said Groh. “As we see a second generation of designers enter the profession with McCoy in the market, we’re proud that it continues to be the leader in premium sheets.”

If you’re attending the HOW Conference, stop by the Sappi booth to see Sappi representatives sporting t-shirts inspired by the classic McCoy logo. Copies of Gill’s poster are available at the booth on Wednesday, 5:30-6:45 pm. Gill’s keynote takes place Thursday, May 15 at 2:00 pm; afterward, Gill himself will be available to sign posters at the Sappi booth. And visit the Sappi site to download the swatchbook, or request McCoy samples from sappisamples.com.