What’s Up With BAA and JCDecaux?

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

DowJones and the Wall Street Journal admittedly beat us to the punch yesterday with the announcement that JCDecaux‘s airport advertising unit and BAA Ltd. jointly agreed to end their advertising agreement – but it doesn’t really seem to be the end of the two working together.

Under the agreement with BAA, which operates the U.K.’s Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, JCDecaux Airport provided advertising for seven U.K. airports, and it still holds the U.K. advertising contracts for London Luton airport, Eurotunnel and the Gatwick Express train service, the companies said.

That current agreement, made in 2006, was scheduled to end in April, 2010. However, a process to structure a new contract will commence shortly, the two companies said in a joint statement to Dow Jones.

What that means is uncertain.

Earlier this month, Heathrow launched 47 ‘Power Poles’ designed by JCDecaux Airport. The Power Poles, which enable passengers to charge up their mobile phone, laptop, netbook or other electronic devices completely free of charge, also allow their first sponsor, Samsung, to display its products. These Power Poles represent an investment by BAA of over £300,000 in research, development, production and installation to develop.

The ‘Power Poles’ are positioned in the departure lounges and gate areas of Heathrow terminals 1, 3, and 4, reaching 100% of the departing airport audience. (Easy to use, all customers need to use the ‘Power Poles’ are their own chargers.)

Those travellers – about 140 million flying in and out of London annually – are of great interest to JCDecaux. In March, JCDecaux formed a new division called JCDecaux London, a cross-divisional initiative spanning key sites on roadside and across JCDecaux Airport’s London airports. Under David Lambert as director, the division is to promote its entire portfolio of Première, roadside, airport, street furniture and StreetTalk poster sites as a way to reach Londoners and to follow the travelers in their moves.

With BAA and JCDecaux so intricately linked it seems unlikely that there has been a falling out. At the moment, we don’t know if the JCDecaux and BAA want a new, more extensive agreement to replace their current deal, or what’s up. But we intend to find out!

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