Cemusa, the little Spanish company that won the city's $1 billion street-furniture bid, will take over selling advertising on city bus shelters, newsstands and, yes, those toilets that had the city media abuzz when New York announced the winner of the bid.
On June 15, New York City sent CBS Outdoor a 30-day notice informing them Cemusa would be taking over sales for the street furniture. CBS, however, chose to hand over the reins early.
Increasing their staff
Cemusa's New York executives have upgraded their Greybar building office for a larger space decorated in red and yellow furniture -- in honor of the Spanish flag -- and have been busily hiring staff to fill out the national sales team required to sell the sites.
The company, which also has street furniture contracts in San Antonio, Miami and Boston (where it shares duties with JC Decaux), is part of FCC, an $8 billion Madrid-based company that specializes in construction and municipal services, everything from garbage collection to transportation. In New York, it has enlisted Nicholas Grimshaw & Associates, the architecture firm that designed Manhattan's Fulton Street Transit Center, to design the futuristic metal-and-glass structures.
The new street furniture won't be immediately erected but will start appearing toward the end of the year with the bulk of the new construction in early 2007. In the meantime, Cemusa will give the existing structures a facelift, adding new glass, a fresh coat of paint and diffusers to the backlit signs so individual bulbs aren't visible, said David Askew, director-North American marketing and sales.
Mr. Askew, a Brit who's been in the U.S. for 10 years, is part of Cemusa's foreign executive team -- the U.S. general manager is a Spaniard and the U.S. CEO is a Greek woman -- and was hired to oversee Cemusa's "income and image" in the U.S., he said.
The company is touting its flexibility when it comes to campaigns. "I don't see billboards as our competition," Mr. Askew said, "but rather radio and broadcast TV, other local media. ... We're a repetitive-impact medium."
And it's banking on a new style of street-furniture ad -- the classic 8-sheet-size ad that will run the length of the newsstands -- to draw in new categories, such as autos.
More than Manhattan
Cemusa is investing in research that will help outdoor advertisers better understand the value of street-furniture placements in the outer boroughs. Typically, advertisers have cared far more about how many boards they have in Manhattan and disregarded other New York locations. "We know the boroughs have purchasing power and we want to prove they have money to spend," said Nigel Emory, Cemusa's newly hired research chief.
Some other outdoor companies who had vied for the contract criticized Cemusa behind closed doors as having overpaid for the contract. As part of the deal, Cemusa pays the city $1 billion dollars for the rights to sell advertising on the street furniture and is designing, installing and maintaining 3,300 new bus-stop shelters, 330 new newsstands and 20 public toilets. The city also receives a share of the ad revenue and 20% of the ad space to use for its own campaigns and corporate sponsorship deals.