Edinburgh trams: Ad firm loses contract after ‘no revenue’ brought in

The Council has halted the advertising deal.
The Council has halted the advertising deal.
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ADVERTISING giant JC Decaux is set to lose the contract for letting ads on Edinburgh’s trams after failing to bring in any revenue for more than two years.

The city council had expected to receive around £200,000 a year from adverts inside and outside the carriages, including “wrapping” some of the trams in advertisers’ branding – which could have cost £70,000 a year.

But little or no advertising was secured and the council is about to remove the contract.

Council leader Andrew Burns revealed the move at yesterday’s full council meeting after the matter was raised by Deputy Lord Provost Steve Cardownie.

Cllr Cardownie said more than two years ago JC Decaux – which already had a £5 million contract to manage advertising on all council property – was given the tram ads role in addition, without competitive tender and had so far failed to deliver. He asked: “What are the chances of us seeing tram advertising that would bring in revenue for the council?”

Cllr Burns said he and deputy council leader Frank Ross had been actively pursuing the issue “on a weekly basis”.

And he added: “I understand the current contract holders are being released from the current arrangement and alternative contact holders will be confirmed very shortly. I do look forward to further and early progress on this issue in the very near future.”

Cllr Cardownie welcomed the move and told the Evening News: “I’m not a huge fan of advertising on trams – I think they look fine as they are. But a decision was made more than two years ago and there is scant evidence that anything has happened in the interim period.

“When the council is looking to make huge budget savings this is an opportunity to bring in some much-needed revenue.”

It is understood JC Decaux is keen to retain the separate contract for advertising at tram stops, though it is not yet clear whether the council will agree.

The firm did win permission last year to install RBS advertising at two stops – Gogarburn and the Gyle Centre – though similar ads were refused for the tram stop in St Andrew Square because they were judged unacceptable in the world heritage site.

According to financial projections agreed before the tram’s launch in 2014, advertising in its first year should have generated £209,000, with £3.75m being raised over the first 15 years of the service.

Last year, the Evening News revealed how a senior member of staff at JCDecaux had posted an invitation to advertisers on networking site LinkedIn.

It read: “After much anticipation I am ecstatic to announce we are open for business on taking your brand to the Edinburgh masses through tram advertising. Be big, be bold, be seen, be the most talked about brand in town. Be the first ever brand to advertise on the Edinburgh trams. To get on board, get in touch.”

A source said: “People seem happy to advertise on buses. It’s difficult to see why they wouldn’t want to advertise on trams going all the way from the airport into the city centre. It’s a huge opportunity for companies.”

It is understood one option now is for Transport for Edinburgh, the umbrella company set up by the council to oversee both trams and buses, to take over responsibility for tram advertising in conjunction with Marketing Edinburgh and for these two bodies together to seek a partnership with a commercial firm to secure the ads.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com