CBS Outdoor, the one-time Viacom company that is now going it alone with a ‘for sale’ sign on the door, has dispensed with the services of UK managing director Mike Moran and commercial director Mark Chippendale. Jason Cotterell, who negotiated the company’s (so far) successful deal with Westfield, is taking over.
CBS Outdoor has lost a packet in London ever since it struck a £71m a year deal with London Underground to put fancy digital posters at its tube stations. These look great (sometimes, at Oxford Circus) but battle-hardened media specialists (Kinetic and Posterscope) have proved unwilling to pay premium prices for sites in stations that seem to be closed for half the year.
So the company is up for sale and it’s just a matter of who buys it.
French outdoor giant JC Decaux is the obvious suspect but might face monopoly problems. And JCD seems more than than happy to watch its big rivals commit hari-kiri without dipping into its pockets to help them out.
But the London Underground franchise is definitely worth money, if the price reduced.
That’s not likely to happen until after next year’s Olympics though. So CBS Outdoor, in London at least, will just be left to twist in the wind.
Private equity-owned Clear Channel would be a contender and, after that, there’s not much else. Unless some budding poster entrepreneurs go to the City and say, “we could do this better.”
Which they, almost certainly, could.
Posters should be such an easy business but, just like cinema advertising, big media players come in and mess it up.