MELBOURNE: Fairfax's Melbourne Weekly is offering free advertising schedules worth nearly $7000 to homeowners, in the latest salvo fired in the war between Melbourne Weekly and The Weekly Review.
Fairfax sent a letter to 17 vendors in the Stonnington and Boroondara areas whose properties were passed in at auction last week, offering a three-week schedule of advertisements valued at $6750 excluding GST.
The only requirement to the offer was that "your real estate agent must be made aware of the offer and approve in writing the use of their agency branding, advertising copy and photographs within the Melbourne Weekly".
Melbourne Weekly publications director Fiona Reid confirmed to AdNews the authenticity of the letter and said an additional 21 vendors would be made the same offer this week. The offer, she said, would continue to be made available to unsuccessful vendors indefinitely "We haven't put a date on it, and we'll just see how it goes". So far, she said, one vendor has chosen to take up the offer and the schedule will run from next week.
Antony Catalano, publisher of The Weekly Review has responded with a letter of his own, urging other vendors to contact Fairfax and ask why they were not given the same offer. Reid confirmed TMW had recieved a number of calls and she was in the process of co-ordinating an appropriate response.
"We have served the communities [of Stonnington and Boroondara] for 18 years and it has been a great relationship and it's an opportunity to give back" said Reid.
When asked whether the free ads were in retaliation against advertisers who had moved over to The Weekly Review, Reid said: "I stand by the fact that we just want to give back and do the right thing by those communities.
Furthermore, Catalano is preparing to lodge an official complaint with the ACCC and the Department of Consumer Affairs against Fairfax whom he alleges may be in breach of the Estate Agents' Act by extending benefits paid to agents by Fairfax in order to promote the Melbourne Weekly.
"[When I worked for Fairfax] I created the Marketing Alliance Program which gave agents cash for promoting The Age. What we now understand is that the program has been beefed up with a number of benefits, and under the Estate Agents legislation [these benefits] are deemed to be returnable to vendors." he said.
The Weekly Review launched in early April, as a joint venture between Catalano and more than 20 of Melbourne's top real estate advertising agencies. The glossy lifestyle magazine is distributed to approximately 150,000 homes in wealthy suburbs of Melbourne, and is supported by real estate and display advertising.
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