VIA cans advertising agency; transit system says it’s been stiffed on payments for ads on buses

VIA Metropolitan Transit has terminated its advertising agency, accusing it of failing to pay more than $1 million in fees for ads that appear on VIA’s buses and property.

The San Antonio transit agency is assuring advertisers that their ads will remain in place after Cincinnati-based Adsposure told them Monday that VIA planned to “commence work to remove all advertisements on VIA buses and assets.”

That prompted a big advertiser, Villarreal & Begum PLLC, to obtain a temporary restraining order in court that prevents VIA from taking down the law firm’s advertisements.

Alexander Begum of Villarreal & Begum, which bills itself in its ads as the “Texas Law Guns,” said a temporary injunction hearing set for Tuesday likely is now “moot” because it has received assurances from VIA that the law firm’s ads will stay up.

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VIA canned Adsposure with about a year remaining on a five-year contract.

In May 2019, Via and Adsposure jointly announced that they had entered into the contract, valued at $16.3 million if a five-year option was exercised, “to help the transit agency manage and implement its transit advertising program.”

A portion of the contract’s value was to be paid to VIA, though it didn’t specify how much it was supposed to receive.

In addressing why it ditched Adsposure, VIA said, “Following months of discussion, we came to an impasse, and the contract was terminated with Adsposure owing more than $1 million.”

No relationship

Jason Klare, Adsposure’s director of sales, declined to elaborate on the dispute when reached for comment.

“Adsposure no longer has an active business relationship with VIA,” Klare said. “Please direct all questions to VIA.”

Klare sent an email to Villarreal & Begum just after 5 p.m. Monday alerting it that Adsposure’s contract had been terminated that day and that VIA intended to begin removing ads the next day.

“We are very sorry that our dispute with VIA is affecting your contract and business,” he said in the email. “Adsposure has reached out to VIA and offered to facilitate an orderly transition of the contract to the next advertising provider and to assign your contract so that your advertisements can remain in place.

“We will continue to try to work with VIA and encourage them to allow your advertisement contract to continue for its remaining term,” Klare said.

‘Economic harm’

Begum quickly emailed a VIA official to confirm whether the transit agency planned to remove all ads.

“Economic harm will result to all of the advertisers on the VIA bus program if (the) ads are unilaterally taken down,” Begum said in the email. Adsposure was an appointed agent for VIA, he added, so VIA is contractually bound by numerous advertising contracts.

Hearing no response from VIA, Villarreal & Begum filed an application for a temporary restraining order and motion for temporary injunction against VIA at about 9 p.m. Monday in state District Court in San Antonio in an attempt to keep the law firm’s ads in place.

On Tuesday, State District Judge Cynthia Marie Chapa granted a TRO that directs VIA to refrain from removing the law firm’s advertisements. She also scheduled a hearing on the motion for temporary injunction for next Tuesday.

In an interview, Begum said “every single advertiser” received notice from Adsposure that their ads would be taken down.

He expressed concern that his firm would have to buy new vinyl ads and pay for their installation, saying that would cost more than $100,000 for the 80 or so buses on which its advertisements appear.

Ads to remain

Begum, however, received an email from a VIA official late Monday — before it was served the TRO — informing him that the agency was not going to take down the ads.

“Although the Adsposure contract that allows for ads to be placed on VIA buses is being terminated, VIA is not immediately removing existing ads from our vehicles,” Steve Cerna, VIA’s manager of marking promotions, said in the email to Begum’s firm. “Existing advertisers will be contacted to work through the outstanding contract/advertising matters.”

VIA added in its statement: “Ads that are currently on VIA vehicles and within the system will remain in place pursuant to the agreements previously made with Adsposure.”

Based on that, Begum doesn’t expect a hearing will be needed on his firm’s motion for a temporary injunction against VIA.

pdanner@express-news.net



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