Phantom Blog

Phantom gives Ponsonby Central a makeover

Meet the newest member of Phantom’s street team…

He’s a decent bloke, not too shabby with a paste brush… and his pins look damn good in Daisy Dukes. We at Phantom are chuffed to introduce you to “Billsticker Santa”, our “cheeky” Christmas mascot.

Yep, you heard us. A  Christmas collaboration between Phantom Billstickers, Ponsonby Central, and Angus Muir Design, Billsticker Santa’s been managing our Super-sized frame on Ponsonby Road all month – and as it turns out, he’s a natural at it.

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According to designer Angus Muir, this was “definitely not your standard street project”.

With a 2.6 metre waistline, Santa’s Dukes (and his 20XL Phantom T-shirt) had to be hand-stitched by the hardworking Christmas elves at Angus’s workshop, and it took a four-man team two hours to wrestle him onto the roof at Ponsonby Central. We hope he hits the gym before Christmas… and lays off the mince pies.

But while we’ve been stoked to have him on our team, Billsticker Santa won’t be with us much longer – he’s got presents to deliver, and reindeer to feed!

So as we count down the days till Christmas, we’d like to wish you Meri Kirihimete, from our Whanau to yours.  2017 has been a wild ride, and we couldn’t have done it without your support!


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How Deadly Ponies set off a sticker stampede

How Deadly Ponies set off a sticker stampede.

A poster can be more than just a poster. It can be a giant sticker, for example.

When the team at Deadly Ponies wanted to promote their My Little Pony Collection in 2017, they came up with the idea of street posters centred around #MeetShadow – their very own My Little Pony. What if the poster was actually a giant sticker? That would make it both interactive and collectable.

As Managing Director Steven Boyd says, it was an idea they hadn’t seen before. “We thought it was pretty unique at the time – executing it was always going to be the challenge.”

Working with Phantom Billstickers, the Deadly Ponies team solved the technical challenges inherent in a sticker-poster and put together a schedule weighted towards sites near Deadly Ponies stores.

So what did the campaign look like – and what made it distinctive?

“Because the poster was a large sticker, Shadow could be removed and put somewhere else,” says Steven. “We designed it so that it left behind the silhouette. Since the My Little Pony shape is so distinctive, the campaign still worked even when the pony sticker was removed.”


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Social media takes it to the next level.

As the sticker-posters went up, Deadly Ponies leveraged the power of its brand via social media networks. Phantom Billstickers also promoted the campaign to its 30,000 Facebook followers. The result was a viral sensation.

“It received a huge amount of traction on social media, particularly among those who nabbed Shadow and were posting pictures of him on their bedroom wall and other random places” says Steven.

Kasmira Munro, the Phantom Billstickers Account Manager who worked with Deadly Ponies on the campaign, confirms that things got crazy.

“We had people calling into the office and messaging Phantom through social media to find out where the poster locations were so they could grab a sticker,” she says.

Steven Boyd is pleased with the buzz generated by an interactive street poster and clever targeting. “Our campaigns are usually pretty distinctive, so it is a great way to be seen by our customers who happen to be right near one of our retail stores,” he says.

If your brand has passionate fans, why not make the most of street posters to reach them when they’re out and about? Get creative, like Deadly Ponies did, and make sure you amplify your message via social media. Then you can take advantage of the best media of all: word of mouth.

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Robin McDonnell has paste in his blood

Paste in his blood

Robin McDonnell has the serious-sounding title of Managing Partner but what he really prefers is Chief Billsticker. He started out pasting his own posters over Phantom’s efforts on the mean streets of Christchurch and eventually graduated to a role inside the Phantom organisation (which sounds like something from a superhero movie).

Read on to find out how he’s bringing digital tech to the street poster scene, why an apology may be better than asking permission, and how a 5 am poster run led to him becoming world famous in Invercargill.

Robin, what does your role involve?

Keeping an eye on sales, operations, asset management, system development, marketing and new initiatives. I’m responsible for championing our team development, removing roadblocks and keeping the company moving forward.

A lot of what I do centres on our bespoke operating system Pasteand our real-time fulfilment and reporting suite Pasted. I’m currently working on a smart media booking system that will allow instant, intuitive booking of our entire 4,000+ inventory by target demographic, customer segment and location.

What gives you a buzz at work?

I love the intersection of new technology delivering old technology that only Phantom can offer. It’s the best of both worlds.

We also have a great culture that brings out a lot of creative solutions to the challenges and ideas that come our way. It also occasionally ends up in some pretty out-of-control and ridiculous workplace conversations too…

Name a poster campaign that stands out in your memory. 

One of our earlier campaigns that have stuck with me was Playstation 2. We launched a guerrilla attack on the streets of New Zealand with placards around statues, footpath stencils and street posters. We were still apologising months later for liberties taken, but the thing that stayed in my mind was the simple, strong imagery that’s still recognisable long after the gaming technology has become obsolete.

Closer to 2018, we’re far better behaved with leased, council-approved locations but I still really like simple, bold campaigns like the current Skope Classic 2018 posters that pop in our bespoke multi-coloured frames.


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What’s the strangest situation you’ve faced?

You’ll encounter a lot of ‘strange’ on a paste run at 5am. I was once enlisted to plaster Southern Sting (Southland Netball) posters through central Christchurch the night before a big game. I was snapped by a photographer and ended up on the front page of the Southland Times.

Months later I was spotted sticking up posters in Southland and congratulated on doing my bit for the team. They even took my photo to prove they’d met me. That’s the power of the poster and my 15 minutes of fame in one.

How did you come to be at Phantom?

I’m originally from Addington in Christchurch, which is close to where Phantom’s roots lie. Because of that, street posters have always been part of my life. I have memories of admiring Phantom handiwork and later attempting to cover Phantom posters with my own.

In 1999 I met Jim Wilson when I got a summer job at Phantom and quickly realised this was what I wanted to do. I also started working with co-conspirator and Phantom’s other Managing Partner Jamey Holloway who, like me, had started as a billsticker a few months earlier. It was the start of a partnership that’s lasted almost two decades and gets stronger every day.

When the opportunity came up in 2004 to move to Auckland and establish a Phantom operation here, I sold everything and just went for it. Since then we’ve been building New Zealand’s best nationwide, street-level, urban media network.

What does that mean exactly?

We’ve created a whole new category of outdoor advertising that exists nowhere else in the world and is even starting to be copied.

Our hand-built frames and art installations bring a smile, our installation is perfectly flat, many of our sites are lit for 24-hour exposure, our pre and post-campaign reporting is industry-leading, and our team is committed to our customers’ success.

If you could put one client on posters, who would that be? 

One industry I’m super-keen to promote is electric bicycles. Did you know there were 20,000 electric bikes imported into this country in 2017? That’s 20,000 vehicles off the road, and I’d love Phantom to be part of that movement.

Want to be famous on walls around New Zealand? Talk to us now.

Meet our Photographer, Rachel Rowlands

Meet our Photographer – she makes you look good. 

Like many people who work at Phantom Billstickers, Rachel Rowlands is a multi-tasker. Her official title is Presentation Manager, but you could also call her App Co-developer, Retail Co-ordinator, Image Overlord, photographer and Head of Accountability.

What does it involve? Let Rachel tell you herself.

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Rachel, how do you spend your days at Phantom?

I am quality control. Each week I review up to 6,000 images of new posters pasted up by our network of Phantom installers on the ground throughout New Zealand. Our install teams take a picture of each new poster and upload it into Phantom’s unique Pasted app. A poster might go up at 8am on Monday and I’ll be reviewing it at 8.05am.

I’ll be checking each poster is looking good, looking out for any damaged frames, graffiti, or anything else that detracts from the quality of our clients’ image. Sometimes I’ll spot greenery that’s getting in the way of the poster, so I’ll send a message to the guys to trim that bush.

Anything else?

I was part of the in-house team that developed the Pasted app, which went live in spring 2017. We put a lot of work into creating a world-first digital tool for street media. It worked so well we recently extended Pasted to our retail network. So now our clients can see in real time how their flyers and in-store posters are being displayed in cafes, shops and libraries around New Zealand.

Another part of my job is as photographer, taking hi-res shots of posters for clients. I’ll be out on my bike, riding around the city to capture our sites at their best. Then we’ll email the client a link with high-quality photos of their posters plus a map so they can get out and see their campaign in situ.

What’s your background, and how did you come to be working for Phantom?

I’m a trained animator and have worked in the industry, so I’ve got a creative background as a photographer and illustrator and I understand how technology works. I came back to New Zealand in 2015 after a very long honeymoon in Southeast Asia and was looking for a job. I’d always been a fan of Phantom and liked their music posters, so when I saw an opening for a job in their retail team I applied for it. Then the guys upstairs got me into the photographer and presentation role and it took off from there.

Any recent campaigns that stand out in your mind?

I really like the Deadly Ponies campaign that went viral last year with removable My Little Pony Stickers on custom-printed Phantom posters. I love the My Little Pony character and I love Deadly Ponies’ bags, so it was a great combination.

I also enjoy capturing images of musicians, artists and other New Zealand celebrities in front of their posters. It was great to have the opportunity to take a picture of Selina Tusitala Marsh in front of the Phantom poster promoting our latest issue of Café Reader.

What’s something that most people don’t realise about Phantom?

We do retail flyers as well as posters, and that can be a great combination. Customers get the visual impact of the poster, and then they can pick up the flyer, take it away and act on it.

With flyers, I’ve noticed that good design always gets better uptake. At the same time you can include more detailed information and even give people an incentive to act, like money off in-store.

What’s your passion outside work?

Draw, draw, draw! I’m constantly filling up sketchbooks with images from my imagination, and also stuff inspired by the random things people say in the office.

My dream job would be to paint and draw all day, and get paid loads of cold, hard cash. Having brunch would have to be part of it too. Until that job comes up, Phantom’s a pretty cool place to work.

Your brand would look good in our frames – Rachel is there to make sure of it. Contact Stu Palmer now to make it happen.


Birkenstock chose street posters, should you?

A shout-out for Birkenstock

We love all kinds of posters, whether they’re splashy, psychedelic, minimal, or just plain intriguing. One thing that never goes out of style is the power of a striking, simple image.

This recent campaign for Birkenstock proves it.

It’s a beautifully shot, artfully cropped picture of a sandal with some discreet branding. When you have a heritage like Birkenstock’s you can strip the message down to its essentials and rely on the sophistication of your design to make an impact. In a world where people are constantly bombarded by shouty messages, a brand that has the confidence to dial things back can really stand out.

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Congratulations to Birkenstock for making the most of the medium. The summer months, when foot traffic peaks at most of our 6,500 poster frames around New Zealand, is the perfect time to hit the streets with a footwear campaign.

Now it’s your turn…

Street posters work brilliantly over summer when New Zealand is out and about. Got a product or event you want to make famous? Contact us now.