Poster specialists criticise contractors for bad business

Poster contractors Maiden and Mills & Allen have been accused of hypocrisy for describing the volume discounts paid to poster specialists as an embarrassment to the industry.

Poster contractors Maiden and Mills & Allen have been accused of hypocrisy for describing the volume discounts paid to poster specialists as an embarrassment to the industry.

Chris Morley, chief executive of Interpublic-owned specialist IPM, told a Marketing Week outdoor conference last week that the contractors’ attacks on specialists were a negotiating tactic, rather than a stand of principle.

Morley claimed that three years ago, Maiden publicly said that commission payments to specialists were legitimate. “Maiden’s position in the market has strengthened dramatically through acquisition since then and, of course, now it has shareholders to consider. Might there not be just a whiff of hypocrisy in Maiden and Mills & Allen’s latest position, which describes overriders (volume discounts) as a potential embarrassment?

“Perhaps the recent debate might be centred on the profitability of contractors, rather than on any puritanical principle.”

Morley suggested the debate about volume discounts was stereotyping poster people as cowboys. “If more advertisers appoint and remunerate the poster specialist direct we could bury the prejudiced stereotype forever,” he said.

Morley also warned that the big contractors’ new-found dominance of the market might lead to them artificially hardening rates or selling conditionally: “We have no published market revenue data or percentage sold figures,” said Morley. “We have undertaken to produce figures for the past two years but we are consistently dogged by late or inaccurate data from contractors.”

He also criticised contractors’ posting performance in 1996, when 14 per cent of roadside campaigns were wrongly posted in some way, up from 11 per cent the year before.

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