So What Exactly Is Clear Channel’s Digital Strategy?

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Media Week broke the news this morning that Dominic Brookman, former chief executive of now collapsed Vision Media Group International has, we quote ‘acquired the firm’s contracts from the administrator’ although to be fair Dominic did make his intentions clear to us first in a comment on our site last week.

Here’s the problem in our industry and here’s the problem in (so-called) journalism in some quarters – bottom line Media Week’s story was pretty worthless, simply repeating what they had been told and obviously not wanting to upset anyone.

The story goes that ‘new trading vehicle VMG Global’ – a euphemism for a new company formed by the same old management team running away from its debts, its obligations, its suppliers, its contracts, its creditors and leaving its investors and shareholders out of pocket!!

Whilst that unfortunately does not seem to be criminal these days it is shameful and dishonest. Why will no one in the industry write that? Are Media Week journalists thick, lazy, short sighted or is the organisation too cosy with the likes of Clear Channel?

This is Dominic Brookman’s second business that he has led into administration – something of a track record now then?

The article went on (accurately we are afraid) to say that he (that will be Dominic Brookman) has secured a sales contract with Clear Channel Outdoor. Clear Channel even had the gall to throw in a quote, Rob Atkinson, managing director, Clear Channel Outdoor UK, said “its new long-term contract with VMG Global meant the two firms would continue to work together to install and sell advertising on cutting-edge digital panels in shopping malls across the UK”

Clear Channel’s digital strategy in the UK has been something of a joke and I would have thought the less Rob wanted to say on the subject the better. Clear Channel have partnered not once but twice with a business that has proven already that it doesn’t have a clear strategy OR the funds to execute a proper digital rollout in malls – even Clear Channel’s original partner for its Socialite program suffered a similar fate.

You would have thought that Clear Channel would have learnt the first or second time a ropey AIM listed company that they partnered with went Tango Uniform but obviously not – back now for a third bite at the cherry.

It’s also unclear what contracts Dominic Brookman and VMG Global would have actually bought from the administrator. It was our firm understanding that most Malls cancelled their contracts (with VMG International) as soon as it was announced / confirmed that VMG International was not a going concern and was in administration.

It was also apparent that many Malls pretty soon went knocking on ASG Media’s door (nee Avanti Screenmedia) and we are expecting a couple of big announcements from them about this shortly.

Dominic’s aim will undoubtedly be to work only with those Malls that have digital panels (portrait digital screens or InfoPods) – there cannot be more than a dozen or so of these venues in the UK that will have kept a contract.

In our opinion Clear Channel are mad to renew any association with VMG in whatever form. They should just retreat from the digital Mall space having learnt some valuable lessons on who not to do business with.

Like with the Primesight / Titan announcement last Friday (which was a good deal for both parties), focus on a few things and do them well, focus on your strengths – partnering with fools who don’t have money or the wherewithal to do things properly is a waste of time and energy.

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