Actors gain in AFTRA/SAG-advertising contract

Everybody was expecting a revolution, but the advertising contract AFTRA and SAG signed in the early morning hours of April 1 with the Joint Policy Committee of advertising agencies and producers looks a lot like ad contracts of years past.

There are some rate hikes ($36 million total) and some new Internet structures.

But in terms of wiping out the payment structure as we know it, that was tabled for study to be decided in 2012. Class A, pay-per-play commercials, in other words, have been preserved.

The advertisers were looking to wipe out Class A, to be replaced by a Gross Rating Points structure that would pay actors based on how many people saw the ads. The actors unions aren’t averse to GRP, which was suggested in a Booz Allen study commissioned in the last round of negotiations.

“GRP is a very elegant way of doing things,” said John Carter Brown, Chicago’s SAG board rep who, as an alternate, sat in on a good deal of the negotiations in New York. “It makes sense, because we’re talking about the same thing.”

That same thing would be actual commercial viewers. So actors who appeared in one Super Bowl ad would be paid more than actors who appeared in a commercial that ran 50 times on daytime television, because the Super Bowl would have more viewers.

But this example brings up one of the issues with GRP. Daytime is a highly targeted and valuable market. There might not be as many viewers, but those who watch are more likely to buy certain products. That has to be valued in some way under a new system.