Decaux builds national mall ad network

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JCDecaux, the French company known for its sleek, urban street furniture, is turning from public squares to American shopping malls in its latest out-of-home venture.

By signing long-term exclusive contracts with mall developers and creating a uniform ad size for clients JCDecaux is hoping to turn mall advertising into a national medium.

Structures designed by internationally known architects are being erected at three Simon Property Group shopping malls in New Jersey and Illinois this month. Beginning next year, JCDecaux plans to add structures at six malls a month in the top 20 retail markets as part of its MallScape 2000 program.

160 MALL VENUES

Its 15-year exclusive contracts with Urban Retail Properties Co. (which signed up for 33 of its 72 properties) and Simon bring the company's mall portfolio to 160. It's also in discussions with two other operators to raise the total to 240. In return for the space, the property groups are expected to reap 40% of ad revenues.

Instead of buying single ad spots at malls, advertisers will spend $500 for two weeks for a network of approximately 10 spots in a mall. Eventually advertisers will be able to access ad spots in a variety of malls.

"They will have turnkey access to a broad portfolio of more than 100 malls," said Bill Wardell, senior VP-sales and marketing at JCDecaux USA. "Rather than knocking on the door of individual mall managers, [advertisers and JCDecaux] will be able to work with corporate headquarters to choose the best malls in all the portfolios."

The initial four advertisers that will display ads in the malls outfitted in November are Excite.com, Ford Motor Co., Universal Pictures and Visa International.

Sterling Pile, a partner at Outdoor Vision in Los Angeles, said the idea of simplifying the mall advertising market, targeting high-end shopping centers and adding ad space are good ones.

"In the past there have been a lot of companies selling mall inventory, but it's been hard to piece together an appropriate program for a national advertiser," he said.

`MOST IDEAL PARTNER'

"We wanted to find the partner best-suited to build the business with us on a national scale," said Drew Sheinman, senior VP-marketing and business development at Simon Brand Ventures, a unit of Simon Property, which operates, among other properties, Mall of America. "We've been looking at various opportunities and in JCDecaux we think we've found the most ideal partner to develop the mall in a broader vision."

Cindy Bohde, senior VP-national director of marketing at Urban, which operates such swanky malls as Chicago's Water Tower Place and Los Angeles' Century City mall, said JCDecaux's plan can attract national advertisers to upscale malls without tampering with the atmosphere.

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