JCDecaux has started design work that will see trams covered in advertising “wraps” featuring global brands.
However, over a year after the trams were launched, officials are still unable to say when any adverts will appear – delays which have cost the city £240,000 in missed revenue.
JCDecaux won a £5 million contract last year to manage advertising on all council property, including bus shelters.
Now it has been confirmed that the French-based global street furniture giant will also look after the trams.
The Evening News understands major brands had expressed an interest in appearing on the side of trams, with one business insider branding the process “a missed opportunity”.
The source said: “The hope would be that this is done on good terms. You wouldn’t want the tram to be subsumed into a contract that doesn’t realise its specific value. You would hope that the difference of the tram compared to other council assets would be recognised.
“This has got to be a missed opportunity. The council needs money, and this is a good revenue opportunity. I’m surprised it hasn’t been progressed more quickly. It’s clear that there is interest in them, and this is something that is such a no-brainer. Get them sponsored and get a revenue stream in.”
According to the final set of financial projections agreed before the tram’s launch, advertising in its first year should have generated £209,000.
In the 12 months from May 31 this year, advertising revenue should top £214,000, with £3.75m being raised over the first 15 years of the service.
Green Party finance spokesman Councillor Gavin Corbett said he would raise the delay with fellow board members at Transport for Edinburgh.
He said: “Overall the first year of the tram has been ahead of projections so it’s disappointing if advertising revenue is out of step with that.
“In a short space of time the tram has become something that is identifiably Edinburgh, so I’m pretty sure it’s an attractive proposition.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Essential work has been carried out to ensure we maximise the return offered to the council from tram advertising and naming rights. This has included a thorough assessment of proposals by JCDecaux as part of an existing contract.
“Now that the council is satisfied that the package offers best value work has begun on a design process, with a view to securing advertising revenue as soon as possible.”