EasyGroup faces legal wrangle with Viacom

Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup is in a legal dispute with Viacom after the media owner refused to run ads on London Underground (LU) for easyInternetCafé.

Viacom, which holds the contract to run advertising for LU, refused to run the ads because they compare easyInternetCafé’s service with that of Internet service provider AOL, in contravention of an Advertising Standards Authority ruling in December (MW December 13, 2001).

Now the company is refusing to give back all the &£25,000 paid for the two-week booking because, it argues, easyInternetCafé failed to provide it with a poster that meets ASA standards.

EasyGroup is talking to its solicitors about the legality of the move, which it says is “theft”. Its media buyer Starcom Motive has taken an undisclosed part of the booking for another client, but Viacom says the remaining empty space must be paid for by easyGroup.

EasyGroup director of corporate affairs James Rothnie says he wants all the money returned. He says: “We want our money back. Viacom received our money but refused to provide the goods.”

Viacom marketing communications manager Hannah Skellorn says: “We took the booking and wanted to run a campaign, but we’re not going to give all the money back. We’re not going to lose out just because we can’t run its ad.”

Starcom Motive declined to comment for legal reasons.

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