Equity moves to split ad industry

Equity is preparing to drive a wedge into what it believes are cracks appearing in the ad industry’s united opposition to the boycott of commercials by the actors’ union.

Equity is preparing to drive a wedge into what it believes are

cracks appearing in the ad industry’s united opposition to the boycott

of commercials by the actors’ union.



It will bypass industry negotiators with an offer to lift the boycott

for any agencies and advertisers willing to work under an updated

version of the 1991 agreement between the two sides.



Ian McGarry, the general secretary of Equity, admitted this week that

the move was an attempt to exploit what it believes are serious

reservations about the dispute by some agency creative directors and

clients.



’The ad industry has backed itself into a corner by ruling out sensible

negotiations,’ he said. ’We are now seeking to divide it.’



But Graham Hinton, the president of the Institute of Practitioners in

Advertising, claimed the move was an act of desperation. ’Equity is

tacitly admitting that its previous instructions have been ineffective,’

he said. ’This isn’t a crisis for us and we continue to make

high-quality commercials with talented actors. We also know of numbers

of celebrities who say they will defy the boycott.’



The union’s offer is being made in a letter being sent this week to IPA

member agencies and major television advertisers.



In it, Equity declares its willingness to allow its members to work to

an amended 1991 agreement - revised to take account of changes in the

RPI - as long as its terms are offered to all members working on a

commercial whether they be voiceovers or visual artists.



The boycott of UK commercials production was imposed four months ago as

part of a dispute over voiceover fees, which the IPA and the

Incorporated Society of British Advertisers argue are out of

control.



Equity claims employers’ proposals would cut voice-overs’ earnings by

two-thirds. The IPA and ISBA accuse the union of walking out of talks

last year and insist that voiceovers are negotiable.



Equity leaders say their decision to turn the heat up comes in response

to a meeting between ACAS officials and employers’ representatives which

produced no change in the industry’s hardline stance.



’The employers only agreed to see ACAS because they’d been criticised

for not doing so,’ McGarry said. ’We concluded at that time that there

was no realistic prospect of a settlement with them.’