Our association with the Ariel Motor Company goes right back to 2001, when we climbed into our first Ariel Atom. It was used to promote another creative business back in those days. It’s 2016 now and we’re running a new Gibson branded Atom. Purely for client rides and charity work, of course.
Back in 2005, the Ariel Atom Owners Club was founded. It’s mission is to bring like-minded petrolheads together. More of a driving club than a bunch of geeks that want to talk grommets and flanges, it’s been actively promoting forum discussion, international meetings, track days and road trips for over ten years. In 2015 we helped plan and design the branding for a tenth birthday event.
Starting at the Ariel factory on a Saturday in mid-September, owners moved onto the Haynes Motor Museum, a Cotswolds hotel stay, a celebratory dinner with a talk by Steve Cropley (Editor-in-chief at Autocar and former Atom owner), followed by a Sunday drive and barbeque. The event culminated on the Monday with a private track day at Castle Combe race circuit in Wiltshire.
We christened the event ‘Atomic Mass’. A wry reference to the almost religious devotion that many owners show to the brand. If lightweight cars are a religion, Ariel Atom owners could rightly be called extremists.
We had a bit of fun branding Atomic Mass. Simon Saunders, Ariel’s managing director and design supremo, featured on all the visual material as a saintly reverend. The Ariel Atom owners are arguably his flock and they his followers. Plenty of passengers have certainly uttered a prayer before their spin in an Atom.
Designed and illustrated by Steve Gibson, the event graphics started with a car sticker, some 150mm high. We searched for a supplier with standards as exacting as ours and found Diginate. And they didn’t disappoint. Like Ariel, we’re a bunch of perfectionists.
Next for the Atomic Mass branding was the much anticipated t-shirt. Transferring the graphics to clothing demanded that we use silk screen printing – in seven colours. It was the best way to give us the dense, accurate colours we wanted, at a cost-effective price.
After speaking to several print suppliers, we chose Fifth Column in London and their range of carbon-neutral t-shirts. Whilst Fifth Column got down to printing on organic cotton, we started imagining an extension to the project – a hardback book.
In the ten year life of the owners club there has never been a publication dedicated to their adventures. There are pictures scattered across the web, on social media and in private collections, but nothing distilled into one handy format. A book was way overdue.
We’re the first to admit that the audience for such a book is tiny; but for owners, it’s a set of photographs that no transient website or whizzy smartphone could ever equal. In time, it will become a well-thumbed scrapbook of glorious memories of old friends and historic travels.
With requests sent out across the web, pictures began to arrive thick and fast from across the UK, the USA, Europe and Hong Kong. Our original vision of a 56 page book was quite an underestimate. After a brutal filtering of pictures, it still ran to 140 pages. The foreword was written by Simon Saunders of Ariel and the introduction by Bruce Fielding, a founder of the club. Designed and illustrated by Steve Gibson, it was printed and bound as a hardback by Blurb, using an HP Indigo digital press in Holland. The only book, in the history of automotive publishing, to be dedicated to the Ariel Atom – and all copies have now sold out.
If you want to explore the eclectic nature of international ownership, from road trippers to racers, and a decade’s growth of the Ariel Atom Owners Club, it’s the perfect place to start. As the book says, ‘No roof. No doors. No windscreen. And no better company.’
For more details on the Atomic Mass book, branding Atomic Mass or devising your own event branding, please contact designer Steve Gibson.