16 Aug 2023

Hello darkness my new friend

16 Aug 2023

At Phantom, we’ve been thinking hard about our carbon footprint. The climate crisis isn’t going away and, if nothing else, building owners are facing some real risks with insurance premiums. So what does Phantom offer as a responsible business partner and wannabe good corporate citizen?

One answer is: Hit the off switch.

That’s why last month we began switching off our digital posters between the hours of midnight and 5am. This single action reduces a site’s energy usage by 20% at a stroke, while having almost no effect on viewership (i.e. what our clients are paying for). 

Here are some other things we’ve learned in our mission to decarbonise our business.

Step 1. You can only manage what you measure

We’ve talked before about the importance of having an accurate gauge of the actual carbon impact of your busines. That’s why Phantom worked with Toitū to audit our operations in 2020 and 2021.

Having analysed our carbon impact down to the last Uber ride, we were able to target reductions and achieve Net Carbon Zero status. 

This process is ongoing. We’re currently in the process of repeating our Toitū audit to make sure we stay on track. In essence, we’re continuing to reduce our carbon footprint year on year, with no end in sight.

Step 2. Go hard on all fronts

There’s a bit of a tendency in society to look for a one-stop solution. Offsetting carbon emissions by sponsoring tree planting is one example.

We think this is the wrong framework for delivering change.

By all means plant trees, but every organisation should also be taking a hard look at the specific impacts of its operations, and coming up with better solutions. 

So as well as switching off outdoor screens during the wee small hours, Phantom has committed to using sustainable inputs, such as Greenguard inks that do not emit harmful chemicals. All Phantom’s poster frames are made from plantation-grown pine, and we’re progressively converting our vehicle fleet to EVs.

And since we’re one of the country’s largest printers, with 6,500 poster frames to fill every week, we guarantee that all our posters are printed on paper from sustainably managed plantations. Finally, all our poster campaigns are recycled once they’ve had their time in Phantom’s frames. 

Step 3. Work together

There are encouraging signs that industry groups and global bodies are looking to cooperate more to reduce the impact of their operations. It can’t just be left to governments and individual families.

In our corner of the business – the outdoor media sector – we think we’ve got a great story to tell. But we need to get better at helping advertisers understand the implications of what we’re selling them.  

Sustainability needs to be baked into all measurement methodology. This is not just a nice-to-have; it needs to be measured with the same ferocious intent that delivers ROI. The gold standard would be a carbon calculator included on every media schedule. 

On the topic of measurement, thanks to global best-practice guidelines introduced in 2022, there is a burgeoning marketplace of off-the-shelf measurement solutions. It’s great to see that by creating common standards the market is starting to deliver innovative and sustainable measurement

So how does this affect our business partners?

Apart from us all being on the same planet, facing the same systemic challenge of climate change, we think that property owners benefit from having a proactive partner like Phantom. 

One with a long-term view.

We want to see street posters standing proud on walls for years to come – earning revenue for all our partners.

For that to happen, we need our business model to be fit for the 21st century, with buy-in from city councils and the general public whose consent we all ultimately rely on.

Switching off our digital screens at midnight, changing our fleet to EVs, and continuing to reduce our carbon footprint every year are all part of the process.

It’s not about darkness. It’s about the light at the end of the tunnel.

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