JC Decaux picks up Frankfurt airport, seeks brand notoriety

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PARIS--French outdoor advertising giant JC Decaux has announced a new partnership agreement with the Frankfurt Airport, Europe's third-largest with 46 million passengers in 1999.

The agreement will see JC Decaux take a 39% stake in the airport's internal advertising network, which recorded sales topping $12 million in 1999.

The move into Frankfurt represents the latest in a long string of international expansion operations for JC Decaux, which bills itself as the world's largest outdoor advertising company, with operations in 33 countries and 1999 revenues topping $1 billion. The company is the dominant player in France, controlling a number of profitable monopolies on municipal outdoor advertising concessions nationwide. It has also expanded into new markets in Europe, Latin America and the U.S. in the past six months and is gradually upgrading much of its outdoor infrastructure.

Family-owned JC Decaux had hoped to finance this international expansion with an initial public offering of up to 20% of its capital on the Paris Bourse, or stock exchange.

Ongoing uncertainty in global capital markets -- and particularly investor wariness of media and advertising companies -- forced JC Decaux to postpone the IPO in mid-October.

"The listing is still going to happen. It is just a matter of time,'' says a company spokesman.

Despite hesitation over the IPO, Publicis Consultants, Paris, continues rolling out a high-profile branding campaign aimed at raising public awareness of advertising activities managed by JC Decaux.

The campaign includes an original, multi-duration TV spot from Paris production house Premiere Heure. It features footage from 12 famous directors, including Francis Ford Coppola, Spike Lee, David Lynch and Wim Wenders, that demonstrates the range of outdoor infrastructure run by JC Decaux worldwide.

The campaign's signature slogan, "JC Decaux, Windows on the World,'' features prominently in print and cinema ads now running nationwide.

Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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