Poster buyers censure cartel tactics

A growing rift between poster contractors and poster buying specialists is fuelling fears of a cartel between two major contractors and is threatening to kill off this year’s planned industry conference.

A growing rift between poster contractors and poster buying

specialists is fuelling fears of a cartel between two major contractors

and is threatening to kill off this year’s planned industry

conference.



Increasing co-operation between Maiden Outdoor and Mills and Allen, two

of the big three poster contractors, is in danger of undermining the

outdoor industry’s generic marketing initiatives and could verge on

unfair competitive practices, observers were warning this week.



Maiden and M&A have been working together on several joint marketing

strategies, such as a ’win a poster campaign’ competition and a joint

outdoor advertising forum. Both Maiden and M&A have also taken the same

line on cutting back on the volume discounts and sur-commission which

some buying specialists receive. Rival contractors and poster buying

specialists are concerned that these initiatives verge on cartel

practices.



Several specialists boycotted the Maiden/M&A forum last week, and the

contractors were forced to drop a number of contentious issues from the

agenda at the last minute. A session on a joint grading initiative for

poster sites, which some fear is a direct undermining of the industry’s

audience measurement system, Postar, was axed.



The Council of Outdoor Specialists meets this week to discuss the

issue.



One member commented: ’Their co-operation does seem to spill over into

areas which could go beyond marketing collaboration and could be

construed as a cartel.’



The More Group, the other major contractor, is also said to be

monitoring the situation very closely and its concern is understood to

have prompted it to withdraw its support for the industry conference

which had been scheduled for spring. One observer commented: ’If you’ve

got that as a backdrop it’s not particularly helpful for an industry

conference.’



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