Blitz Advertising, currently affiliated with Spark Media under the Publicis Groupe, is facing a $642,419.25 lawsuit from The MediaVantage (TMV) Advertising DMCC, a Dubai-based broker for media inventory which claims they were not paid for marketing services rendered.
Filed with the Sindh High Court, the suit (case number 2086 filed for “Recovery of Amount/Damages”) claims that “Blitz Advertising (Pvt.) Ltd & others” entered an agreement with TMV for carrying out marketing activities in the United Arab Emirates in the lead up to the 2019 Pakistan Super League. According to the filing, the suit is currently “pending”.
Dan Qayyum, the Commercial Director of TMV, told Branding In Asia that in 2019 Blitz Advertising was granted a contract by the Pakistan Cricket Board to book out of home (OOH) media, specifically billboard and taxi advertising, around the United Arab Emirates to promote the Pakistan Super League event in the country.
“The fact that we have hired one of Pakistan’s top and most high profile lawyers, and that the lawyers are confident we have a solid case, is telling in itself,” said Qayyum.
“It is further claimed that Blitz booked media in the UAE through TMV Advertising DMCC and has failed to pay for a significant portion of the media space and services bought on behalf of the Pakistan Cricket Board in the UAE,” said Qayyum.
According to the filing with Sindh High Court, TMV is suing Blitz Advertising for AED 2,359,606 (USD 642,419.25) in allegedly unpaid fees.
When asked to produce additional documents to support claims made of a business relationship between Blitz Advertising and TMV, Qayyum declined to share any other details other than those contained in a release, which he posted in the following tweet:
Lawsuit filed in Sindh High court over unpaid PSL4 media campaign in #Dubai#PSL #PakistanSuperLeague #PSL4 #PSL5@TheRealPCB pic.twitter.com/TfA39MnInL
— Dan Qayyum (@DanQayyum) February 2, 2020
Regarding sharing further documentation Qayyum said that TMV is bound by the advice of counsel, adding that said documents may be shared at a later stage.
“The fact that we have hired one of Pakistan’s top and most high profile lawyers, and that the lawyers are confident we have a solid case, is telling in itself,” said Qayyum in a WhatsApp correspondence with Branding In Asia.
According to the filing with the Sindh High Court, Zahid Ebrahim, a senior partner at FGE Ebrahim Hosain, is representing TMV in the case against Blitz Advertising.
Blitz Advertising is a subsidiary of Z2C, the communications holding company for ventures owned by Raihan Merchant. Brainchild Communications, an affiliate of Starcom MediaVest Group under the Publicis Groupe, is also under Z2C.
According to documents provided to Branding In Asia by Merchant, TMV first contacted Blitz Advertising on the 24th of June 2019 with a legal notice claiming that it was owed for OOH placement services provided in the lead up to Pakistan Super League 2019.
Ahsen Idris, the CEO of Blitz Advertising, filed an FIR and stated that a former OOH planner forged the signature of Ali Raza, the CFO of Blitz Advertising.
On the 27th of June 2019, legal representatives for Blitz Advertising sent a response to TMV wherein the claims were denied and proof of a business relationship was requested. On the 12th of July 2019, legal representatives for TMV responded with a series of claims detailing correspondence between the CFO of Blitz Advertising and a team at TMV. It is worth noting that this response from TMV did not include the requested proof, such as a notarized agreement detailing the terms of the relationship.
On the 22nd of August 2019, legal representatives for Blitz Advertising sent a response to TMV which reiterated a need for a legal document to prove the business relationship, adding that in light of failing to do, TMV was requested to withdraw their notice and tender an unconditional apology.
Last year, legal representatives for Blitz Advertising sent a response to TMV wherein the claims were denied and proof of a business relationship was requested.
Earlier this week, on the 2nd of February 2020, just 18 days before Pakistan Super League 2020, Qayyum sent out a Tweet (posted above) which included a screengrab of a press release around the alleged offense and the actions being taken.
Behind the Scenes
Branding In Asia has seen a first information report (FIR) filed by Blitz Advertising in May 2019 naming a former OOH planner [name withheld by Branding In Asia] as having attempted to misuse the letterhead of Blitz Advertising to strike a business deal that was twice the OOH budget agreed by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Ahsen Idris, the CEO of Blitz Advertising, filed the FIR and stated that the former OOH planner forged the signature of Ali Raza, the CFO of Blitz Advertising, and sought to bring the accused forger to justice.
Pakistan Super League
In 2015, Z2C pitched the Pakistan Super League concept to the Pakistan Cricket Board, winning the media remit and gaining exclusive rights in brokering sponsorship and broadcasting deals. The principal sponsor for the event is Habib Bank Limited.
In an interview with Bloomberg in 2018, Arif Habib speculated that the Pakistan Super League is worth $300 million, while a 2019 report Lagardere Sports and Nielsen Sports valued the championship game at $230 million, nearly thirty times smaller than the Indian Premier League.
According to the Pakistan Economist, the Pakistan Super League has thus far generated $189 million from income based on broadcasting, 80% of which goes to franchises while the remainder reaches the Pakistan Cricket Board.