SAG interim-pact claim disputed by advertisers

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Despite reports major advertisers have caved in to union demands, representatives for advertisers and agencies said only a tiny percentage--2% to 5%--of current commercial activity is being conducted under interim agreements.

Last week, the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television & Radio Artists claimed more than 30 major advertisers have agreed to pay higher rates for on-air union talent since the commercial actors strike began May 1. Advertisers allegedly entered into agreements indirectly, via TV production companies and other intermediaries.

Six of the top 10 advertisers--General Motors Corp., Philip Morris Cos., DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co., AT&T Corp. and PepsiCo--have produced commercials under these agreements, according to SAG/AFTRA.

SAG/AFTRA noted that Pepsi shot a commercial--featuring Cleveland Indians baseball player Roberto Alomar--under an interim agreement signed by Dallas-based TV production company Pinpoint Ideas & Solutions.

"We haven't signed any kind of agreement," a Pepsi spokesman said. "That spot was a local [public service announcement] to promote our youth baseball camp. It was one station, one spot. We are supporting the efforts of the [Association of National Advertisers] and the [American Association of Advertising Agencies]."

"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Robert Curlin, Pinpoint president. "While I have signed the interim agreement and have done work with Pepsi, I didn't do this promotional spot." He said the contract doesn't cover PSAs.

Other advertisers listed by SAG/AFTRA were American Honda Motor Co.'s Acura Division, American Isuzu Motors, America Online, British Airways, Carl's Jr., Compaq Computer Corp., Greyhound Lines, Marriott International, McDonald's Corp., Nordstrom, J.C. Penney Co., Nestle-owned Perrier, Public Broadcasting System, RadioShack Corp., Sprint PCS, Levi Strauss & Co., Priceline.com, Salomon Smith Barney, Seagram Beverage Co.'s Grolsch beer, Charles Schwab & Co, T.J. Maxx, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Volkswagen of America, Washington Post Co., Wells Fargo Bank, White Castle and Yahoo!.

Overall, Ira Shepard, counsel to the Joint Policy Committee of Talent Union Relations of the ANA/Four A's, doubted the accuracy of the SAG/AFTRA list.

ADVERTISER DENIALS

"Sprint, Levi Strauss and McDonald's have already told me no commercials have gone out this way," he said.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said she doesn't believe any company agencies signed interim agreements. A spokeswoman for Carl's Jr. agency Mendelsohn/Zien, Los Angeles, said the shop has no interim agreement. A PBS spokesman said he knows of no interim pacts that the network was party to.

Contributing: Tobi Elkin, Kate MacArthur, Ira Teinowitz

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