Phantom Blog

Phantom Blog

Adventures in meatspace.

When strategists talk about ‘brand engagement’ it can sound a bit science-y.

There are terms like metrics, channels and impressions. There is data.

All of which is vital, because we understand the need to be accountable. Without a return, you can’t justify the investment.

But engagement is ultimately about adventures in meatspace. It’s what happens when humans react to something and neurons are rewired inside their skulls.

In short, it should feel like fun.

Get the engagement party started with posters.

Every street poster is a real-world event. It’s an opportunity for engagement. It’s eye candy at eye level, waiting to ambush your customers in the nicest possible way.

With a little help from our Phantom Labs team, you can make it even more fun.

You could have your poster stocked with treats, like a supersized advent calendar .

You could build the poster from your product, like Lego did. Or place poi on posters, for kapa haka fans to collect.

You could add a QR code, so people can scan to win or simply discover more. Or you could bring a new world to life with Augmented Reality.

With the power of posters (plus your creativity), reality becomes a little more
interesting. Display is good but play is better.

That’s excellent news for ambitious brands.

The ultimate amplifier.

As you know, digital media are essential for reach and targeting. But don’t stop there.

Use the power of posters to amplify engagement.

The way you do it by weaving online and offline together. So your poster creative doubles as your digital banners and dovetails with your activation strategy. (Never underestimate the power of posters to trigger a sale when they’re sitting outside a stockist that sells your product).

The real magic happens when consumers amplify your brand’s impact by snapping pictures and sharing with their followers. For the cost of some strategically placed posters, you can have a campaign that goes viral to people far and wide.

We saw this play out when Lorde fans started nicking her posters from Phantom frames. One of them shared this larceny on TikTok, and Lorde got extra reach for no extra investment.

Something similar happened when we helped launch the most recent series of The Boys. Fans organically shared Phantom’s spectacular installation on Newton Road, with images popping up on the global Reddit thread r/TheBoys (545K members).

The stats back up these case studies. Over 60% of TikTok, Facebook and Instagram users say they regularly see OOH creative on those platforms. And nearly half of them say they visit the websites of brands they see in their social feeds. Check out the research here.

It suggests that when you create an outdoor moment that engages viewers, those viewers will happily boost your organic reach. (And if they’re already your superfans, they’ll love you even more.)

It starts with fun. It ends with ROI.

Happy with ad wastage? Us neither.

One of the people who invented marketing came up with a good line. He said he knew half his ad budget was wasted – but unfortunately he didn’t know which half.

We have some thoughts on the topic.

And a few solutions.

Waste not, want not.

In 2024, budgets are being squeezed. Every dollar is under scrutiny. With research showing that 41% of digital ad spend achieves nothing, it might be time to go back to basics:

  • Where exactly are your ads running?
  • What exactly are people seeing?

Let’s tackle these one at a time.

Do you know exactly where your ads are appearing?

Sure, the stats say your campaign is being served to the audience you want to reach. But what does that actually mean?

It means your digital ads can wind up in places your brand doesn’t really want to be. That’s how the platforms work.

Annoying and intrusive digital ad experiences have been shown to create huge wastage in ad spend by turning off the audiences you hoped to woo. That’s if the ad blockers don’t get there first.

That wasn’t the plan when you allocated the budget. However, it’s always a risk with programmatic schedules. 

Solution: Poster space you own (with a photo to prove it).

The classic OOH poster format is a guaranteed haven for your message. With your eye candy at eye level, every encounter is real. 

At Phantom we minimise wastage with rigorous measurement and mapping tools to buy the eyeballs you want. Then our Account Managers use their in-depth knowledge of Phantom’s network and your brand’s objectives to develop a schedule that maximises your impact.

Every site has to earn its place on your schedule. And to prove the poster went up, we send you a date-stamped photo of every poster in its frame.

That’s Accountability with a capital A.

Wait…did anyone actually view that ‘impression’?

As the digital ad market matures, people are starting to use AI and analytical tools to look beyond simplistic measures such as impressions and clicks. 

A recent study for Amplified Intelligence in conjunction with PepsiCo Europe revealed that only 42% of brand moments were actively viewed. Just because the ad was served doesn’t mean anyone noticed it.

This is driving the development of more sophisticated analytics – but there’s another approach you could take.

Solution: Real-world encounters with unmissable creative.

When your ads are viewed by actual humans, you can surprise and delight them with your targeted creativity. 

For instance, you could arrange things so they conjure up vampires in their mind. With the right site and a fiendishly clever idea, your creative idea can come to life in the most unexpected way. 

Or what about getting people to play with your idea? We’re not talking about clicks here. With Phantom’s supersites and the skills of the Phantom Labs team, you can have your target audience opening aircraft windows, playing with poi, pouring kombucha, or collecting golden keys. 

That’s not wastage – that’s engagement

Outdoor media is one of your best weapons against ad wastage.

As marketers grapple with the need to connect spend to performance, they have an ally in outdoor media.

Posters are accountable, because strategic buying with the assistance of a team that really understands the network means you can craft a schedule that delivers ROI. With eye-opening creative placed in front of real people, you create an unmissable campaign.

The bonus? People actually like posters. Especially Gen Z. They say they find them a pleasant relief from the surveillance economy enabled by adtech.

We can show you the results we’ve achieved with other waste-averse marketers. 

And we can do it for you, too.

National Poetry Day 2024.

Mark your calendars! The date for this year’s nationwide celebration of poetry is scheduled for Friday 23 August. Registrations and seed funding applications are now open, and event organisers across the motu are encouraged to get involved and celebrate Aotearoa’s growing and vibrant poetry scene.

In its 27th year, Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day has established itself as a prominent and popular event in the literary calendar that promises an explosion of poetry countrywide in late August.

Poetry has made its mark everywhere during previous events, from bricks to buses, sidewalks to sand, resonating through national parks, churches, hospitals, museums and city streets. “The possibilities are endless,” emphasises NPD’s new national coordinator, Gill Hughes. “We invite organisers to don their creative hats and come up with unique and wonderful ways to celebrate poetry in all its forms”.

Phantom BillstickersCEO Robin McDonnell says, “Poetry is the beating heart of unity, inspiration, and endless imagination. From poem posters on the streets of Aotearoa to a verse that hits you right in the heart, it crosses every boundary. At Phantom Billstickers, sponsoring National Poetry Day for nine years, we’re still in awe of how it brings us all together.”

Gill urges interested organisers to register early for seed funding and to take advantage of the heavily promoted official schedule of Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2024 events. Registration forms, templates, planning and marketing resources are all available on the NPD website.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase your love for poetry and engage with your community in a meaningful way. Join us in making Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2024 a memorable and successful celebration of creativity and expression.

Applications for seed funding close at 5pm on 4 June 2024. The official Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2024 calendar will be announced on 1st August.

Part of the machine.

It’s funny how touching a piece of paper can send your head off to the moon.

Some of my earliest memories are pre-ordering motor cross magazines with my dad at the local corner store (we don’t call them dairies in the UK).

Every Saturday morning we’d drop by to see if the latest issue had come in, at the time all I was concerned about was the die cast models of Yamahas and Suzukis that came with each issue, however I never failed to marvel at the glossy, high resolution imagery, long before I could read the accompanying articles.

I can still remember the look of the store front, old newspaper branding adorned the windows and the cashier was so friendly. Years later, after moving around a bit, it’s the same corner store I would go before school to load up on fizzy drinks and sweets.

A few years after that our gang of ne er do wells would loiter outside that shop on a Friday night asking passers by to buy us cigarettes… not my finest moment, but REAL memories.

In my last trip back to the UK in 2022, I was sad to see that store had closed down, its now a vape shop.


That whole ramble above came flooding back just from thinking about magazines, sure I remember some of the best memes, but its not really the same, is it?

I stumbled upon Submachine after chatting briefly with The Boss (used as a term of endearment, as well as fact).

It’s like one of those time-warp moments, that sucks you backwards, falling endlessly into the cosmos, all your life’s memories passing you by, straight back to those first MX mags with dad and the corner shop.

Submachine and Phantom are a match made in heaven, both forged out of innovation, experimentation, the want to push things forward, all whilst remaining true to oneself and the craft.

In the last few weeks we’ve every size Submachine poster out on the streets of NZ.

Real, good, stuff.

In a world of overly digitised EVERYTHING, we need magazines like this to exist.

‘Talk to a surfer after they’ve been out on perfect waves and their enthusiasm will rub off on you. That buzz is infectious. Riding a motorcycle gives you the same buzz. Its the existence of such things that provides us with a shared sense of joy and optimism’.

Art, cars, motorcycles and optimism.

We were lucky enough to grab Al Best, the brain behind Submachine for a quick yarn about himself and the mag,

G’day Al, cheers for making a belter of a mag! tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Although I was born in Auckland, I was educated in Australia. I returned  home to NZ in 1991 and started a career in advertising, working simultaneously as an art director, illustrator and designer. 

I have had a lifelong love of cars and motorcycles, bordering on obsession.

Is there a backstory to Submachine?

With no work during Covid, I taught myself how to screen print and created Submachine as a brand for the t-shirts I was making.  While operating my printing press (a very manual process), I realized I was part of the machine so that’s where the name came from.

People who bought my tees would sometimes send a photo of them wearing it. I would use their photo to make a fake magazine cover and send it back to them. It was just done as a bit of fun, but it got to the point where I really wanted to know what this magazine would be about so I decided to try and make it for real.

Why the decision to go to print, opposed to staying strictly digital? 

I wanted to make something people would keep. Something of value. It had to be printed and I wanted it to feel special, so we use a heavy stock and a special laminate for the cover. People actually stroke the cover and smell the ink when they pick up Submachine. You don’t get that experience online.

What are your thoughts on people saying print is dead? 

(I’m basing this answer on magazines, rather than the print industry as  a whole)

I think people like to be dramatic. What they mean to say is; “Magazines are  not as abundant or profitable as they once were”, which is true. It must be  awful to watch your readership numbers drop away and have to lay off staff and close your doors, but that has happened a lot in the last decade.There  is no question that it is a tough game however, creative people tend to put  pleasure before profit and good magazines tend to be fountains of creativity,  so I don’t see any reason for them to be pronounced ‘dead’.

When the CD came along, they said vinyl was dead but people soon realised there was something missing in the experience of handling a CD and a large part of that was down to the printed component.

I think most intelligent people are aware of the disastrous effects the smartphone is having on society. Books and magazines are a reminder that it is possible to put down the phone and stop scrolling, and yet still being entertained or enlightened.

Any big plans or projects for the future, both personal and for Submachine?

I have met so many amazing people since I started the magazine and many of them have become friends with whom I’d love to collaborate. Hopefully some of the project ideas we’ve had will blossom. On a personal level, I need  to keep learning and have a few things on the boil at the moment that will be new territory for me. For example, I’m about to pinstripe hot rod flames on my fuel tank. This will either be a joy or a disaster!

As for the magazine, I love making it so much. I get such amazing feedback on it so I feel like I am doing something right. 

Sounds absolutely epic mate, look forward to seeing some more of the mahi!

If you’re keen to get your hands on a mag, we’re running a little competition on our socials.

Check out more from Submachine on their website and Instagram.

Don’t be scared of the dark.

The nights are drawing in and autumn is peeping over the horizon. 

Too soon, right? We feel you.

Seasonal variations are a fact of life but that doesn’t mean your outdoor campaign needs to go into hibernation. Phantom has some brilliant ways to shine a light on your message during the dark hours. More on that later.

What we really want to focus on right now is the idea of the ‘Night-time Economy.’ 

Here’s why your brand needs to be out on the streets after dark.

What makes night time the right time?

There’s a huge range of businesses that earn their coin outside office hours. From hospitality to events, entertainment and accommodation, these are operations that thrive outside the nine-to-five. 

If you’re retailing cocktail mixes or the latest Hollywood release, night is the natural time to promote it. Your audience is out on the town, so why not reach them when they’re in the mood to have fun? 

As a corollary, certain precincts attract a tonne of traffic after office hours. From the Christchurch CBD to Auckland’s Ponsonby, Phantom has the urban sites to grab their eyeballs. 

So even if your product is not one that’s consumed at night, you can still reach a valuable chunk of your audience. A creative campaign for a bank, a ute, a breakfast cereal or a coffee brand could resonate with people who are away from their screens for once.

And here’s another bright idea:

Target your night-time audiences with our smart tools.

The sort of people who go to shows and eat at downtown restaurants can be very valuable to an advertiser. That’s why we’ve put a lot of work into creating tools that predict where those people are going to be. 

Another trick of the trade is proximity mapping. We’ll help you buy the poster sites clustered around your stockists or on the typical path to purchase. It could be a simple as putting your burger ads near your fast food outlets (but only if you have a poster portfolio as comprehensive as ours).

With over 6,500 poster frames and urban bollards across Aotearoa, we’ll help you craft a schedule that captures buyers when they’re ready to pull out their credit card.

Less gloom, more glam.

In the olden days, street posters could only be viewed by ambient light. It was a case of hoping the streetlights shed enough photons after dark

These days, we have dedicated lighting on a large proportion of our network. You get 24/7 exclusivity with the assurance that your message will be lit throughout the dark hours.

Phantom also has an array of eye-catching options, from custom neons to Flex LED. These are ideal if you want to create something with lighting built into the idea, such as  Ford’s bright idea to draw attention to its electrified fleet.

Check out this article for more bright ideas.

The things we do to help brands thrive outside the nine-to-five.

Phantom Billstickers can deliver your brightest ideas because we have a dedicated team to build customised sites. 

Our Phantom Labs team love helping clients create something special, whether it’s glowing tigers to promote Asian lager or this electrifying anti-scam campaign from Netsafe. 

After all, the biggest sin in outdoor advertising is a message that can’t be seen. Being seen is our reason for existing.

These days, that applies to the night-time economy as well.