Walmart Settles! PRN Loses?

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Last Friday morning when we first wrote about the PRN – WalMart law suit, we thought we were onto a sure thing. It was going give our staff and contributors fuel for pages and pages worth of opinion, editorial AND guest contributions and keep us busy for months. Then, much to our dismay, just as soon as we had reported it the legal spat was settled.

DISMISSAL OF ENTIRE ACTION OF ALL PARTIES AND ALL CAUSES OF ACTION WITH PREJUDICE – ‘with prejudice’ as applied to an order dismissing the case means it’s “as conclusive of the rights of the parties as if the action had been prosecuted to a final adjudication”. and that also means that the plaintiff is forever barred from bringing a lawsuit on the same claim or cause again.

The actual details of the settlement will likely never be revealed but it seems that Walmart settled, thus (we believe) tacitly agreeing to some of the complaints thrown at them by PRN.

But who exactly has won and at what cost?

Many prominent US industry observers that we spoke to over the weekend believe that PRN has not faired so well in all of this. One told us that he thought “PRN has totally screwed themselves for any hope of surviving the next 12 months” – remember this is a company still firmly up for sale that pretty much decided to wash its dirty linen in public.

Reading the entire lawsuit again we are struck by three key points: –

  1. The ‘agreement’ looked like not much more than a ‘letter of intent’ – in our eyes at least (and we are not lawyers of course) it did not look much like a contract.It’s hard to believe that PRN were this sloppy in not getting a locked in deal with Walmart on something of this size. For example; why would you front the purchase of product and give licenses without a signed, formal contact?

    You have to wonder where were the grown-ups when this piece of paper was being put together?

  2. PRN were daft in not resolving this behind closed doors. They have now shown publicly that they are; toast at Walmart AND desperate to the point that they are challenging the world’s largest company (and the customer that drove 90% of their revenue) to a showdown in court!One might also argue that they have pointed out to their other advertisers that they no longer have the keys to the kingdom for the ‘big show’ and are now a bit player like everyone else.
  3. PRN could have just blown any chance of a positive valuation for itself with the FOR SALE sign above its head. PRN has just told the world that they put themselves in a position where their biggest customer could screw them.To top that off they started a ‘resource war’ with a company that has one of the largest war chests around!

On a positive note we are actually pleased that this has quickly been resolved. An ongoing spat could have significantly hurt the industry – advertisers and agencies who saw success with PRN and used that as a good OOH example would have been harmed, i.e. one more reason for people to dismiss OOH as a viable option.

That at least is not now the case. We have been impressed with what we have seen from the ‘new-PRN’ recently. Let’s hope they can return to that now and put an ill-advised law suit behind them (even though they won!).

3 Responses to “Walmart Settles! PRN Loses?”

  1. NeilC Says:

    Some you win, some you lose guys.

    Looks like you’ll be flogging this farce well into xmas!

  2. Mike Says:

    With the Wal-Mart network is a digital out of home means to reach consumers is it really a media network? Most brands that participate are compelled to do so as a part of their in-store merchandising efforts and those efforts are traditionally paid for with merchandising dollars not media budgets. The network, while successful in driving incremental purchases is not a media network in the realm of others associated with OVAB but a component of traditional in-store efforts on par with shelf talkers, display ads and others.

  3. jim simpson Says:

    Can’t think of when I’ve disagreed with you before, but this one time is significant. When PRN began that project, they had the worlds largest potential client, the most unproven of business models in advertising (US), and a “chicken and egg” problem of enormous size. They persevered.

    OK, so they didn’t get enough ink…what they did was gargantuan. I’ve had many problems coming to terms with possible clients that thought they could just hold out until after I had ordered the technology and made the investments so that I’d have no choice, but it didn’t work. I walked if they didn’t sign. I understand how this can happen, and it can happen very easily.

    So what if they sued, big deal. Good for them. The fact they collected should be a reason to sing their praises, not call them a pariah. Let’s say it how it is…it takes a lot of work to put a network of any substance together and sometimes you do what you think makes sense at the time. PRN, you got my vote…even if I’m alone.

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