Britain's upcoming general election – forecast for May – could see political parties jousting with traditional advertisers for poster sites, warn billboard moguls.

The UK outdoor industry is booming and prime sites are already in short supply, according to Jean François Decaux, chief executive of the French-owned multinational outdoor group J C Decaux. “[Political parties] will be able to get some sites but they will have to move quickly to get the best sites and networks,” he said.

His prognostication was confirmed by rival Maiden Group, whose chief executive Ronald Zeghibe said that the group’s order book for April and May is already filling up: “This is not solely political money so we are not going to see blanket political poster coverage as in previous elections,” he warned.

Outdoor advertising – one of the main weapons in the election armoury of Britain's political parties – is in bullish mode with gross revenues nearing a record £700 million in 2000. Political parties must now compete for prime sites with recently merged companies that are ploughing millions of pounds into the creation of new brand awareness.

In addition, says Stevie Spring, chief executive of Clear Channel-owned More Group UK, fmcg manufacturers are increasingly turning to outdoor advertising. “More companies are moving away from TV as the audience fragments, and moving into the value of outdoor.”

News source: The Times (London)