The Equity dispute has spiralled out of control. What began as a
well-intentioned attempt to save money on the ever more ridiculous cost
of making TV commercials has evolved into a full-scale strike by Equity
members, threatening several high-profile advertising campaigns.
Many neutrals might agree that the cost of voiceovers, including repeat
fees, is too high, but most would also understand why the suggestion of
a 60 per cent reduction at one go is wholly unacceptable. It would be
hypocritical of Campaign not to support attempts to reduce the base
costs of commercials production, but this does appear a heavy-handed way
of approaching the issue.
As the effects of Equity’s predictable intransigence have begun to bite,
cracks have emerged in the industry’s united stance. First, the other
members of the Joint Equity Negotiating Group expel the Advertising Film
and Videotape Producers Association for breaking ranks, being more
conciliatory, and urging ACAS arbitration. Then several production
companies mutter darkly about setting up a rival to the AFVPA. Now,
there appears to be mounting disquiet among some ad agencies about the
way the affair has been handled.
As ever, most of the criticism is in private, which makes it difficult
to endorse publicly. The gist of it is that some agency heads, looking
on in alarm as top stars begin pulling out of ads, are starting to
question the credentials of the people conducting negotiations at the
Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated Society
of British Advertisers. What do they know about life at the coal-face,
say the critics.
To resolve this dispute to everyone’s satisfaction, ad agency bosses
will have to get involved. The alternative is an escalation into ever
more intractable positions. It is essential that someone be prepared to
compromise in order to get back round the table before the situation
gets worse. How about dropping any preconditions?