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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Billboards To Pepper City Ring

In another sign of the growth of consumer advertising in Russia, Maiden Outdoor signed a deal with the Moscow city government Wednesday to open up 20 new billboard sites along Moscow's Garden Ring.

Ian Maiden, the company's chairman, said advertising agencies and their clients had increased their budgets substantially over the last six months. "Things are changing dramatically from a marketing point of view", he said. "Interest is much greater. We have pre-sold almost all or our new sites".

Maiden said sites on the Garden Ring were perfect for billboards, with about 30, 000 motorists driving past every day. "The traffic is incredible. They are comparable to the busiest sites in central London", he said.

Maiden Outdoor, Britain's second biggest billboard company, first signed an exclusive agreement with Moscow in 1989 to operate the city's outdoor advertising.

But the contract has not run exactly as planned. The city granted licenses to several Russian and Western competitors for outdoor advertising sites.

"The first thing we discovered about the exclusive agreement was that it was not exclusive", Maiden said.

Another problem has been the uncertainty over the legal system. For example, the contract with Moscow Trade House, the city's trading arm, runs until the year 2000, but the leases on its billboards only run for another three years.

The firm imports its stainless steel billboards from Britain because it wants them to have an appropriate hi-tech appearance. City officials occasionally object that the boards stand out too much against the drab Moscow streetscape.

The sites will more than double Maiden's display space. It currently has 14 sites along Tverskaya Street and on the highway to Sheremetyevo. Advertising space is sold for hard currency.

Maiden said that to date, the boards have produced only moderate profits. But he said the company expects that to change as the consumer market here develops. "We are not setting up billboards here as a publicity stunt".