The icing on the cake: Valassis has tried to portray itself as the local company done good (it's based in Livonia, Mich.) while News America is a mob-like bunch of New Yorkers owned by the "Capo di Tuto Capo," Rupert Murdoch.
But if you think the decision is a lock for Valassis, think again. It should not be a surprise if the jury goes for News America.
The main problems with Valassis' case are that it has been complicated, long, and, for laypersons, counterintuitive. Although BNET has highlighted some of the more colorful parts of the case, the majority of the testimony has been an unstructured waltz through the arcana of CPMs, net effective rates and per-page costs. Much of it was impossible to follow, even for someone with knowledge of the business. Will a Michigan jury understand it all? They may not.
Second, this trial lasted weeks. Much of the testimony was incredibly dull. And it was largely on video, not from live witnesses. Juries literally fall asleep in cases like this. If they did in this case, they will be less sure of finding in Valassis' favor.
Third, Valassis is essentially arguing that News America broke the law by offering a two-for-one deal that was cheaper than a single buy. Every American consumer appreciates that discounts are often offered for bulk buys; yet in this case Valassis alleges it's illegal. Technically, Valassis may be correct, but the jury will have to overcome its "common sense" hurdle in order to reach that lawyerly conclusion.
Last of all, the jury has heard that although News America may be dominant in supermarkets, both companies have access to in-store advertising (Valassis via Insignia). And while Valassis has lost the war, it is still a going concern -- the newspaper coupon category is split 56-44 percent in favor of News America. Those numbers don't look insurmountable to someone not in the business.
(Note to readers: BNET will break into its delayed-but-chronological coverage of the trial when breaking news happens. We'll continue summarizing trial testimony even after the verdict if needs be.)
- See BNET's previous coverage of the in-store marketing wars:
- Valassis' Brown Says She Used Same Monopoly Tactics as News America
- Valassis Wins Directed Verdict Motion in News America Trial
- News America's Carlucci Again Accused of Threatening to "Destroy" Floorgraphics
- Valassis Exec Testifies on Anti-News America "Sock Puppets"; Paid Wyeth $1M to Stay
- News America's Emmel Testifies on Exclusivity Payments to Eckerd, Ahold, Harris Teeter
- Del Monte Allegedly "Held Hostage" by News America; Heinz Wanted to Rip Agency a "New A Hole"
- Nestle Exec Had "Tirade" Over News America's Pricing; Mixson Says He Always Does That
- News America Threatened to "Crush" Agency That Worked for Kroger
- News America Irked by Portrayal at Valassis Trial
- PepsiCo Exec: News America Charged an Extra $18 Mil. If We Didn't Take Bundled Deal
- 450 Jobs at Stake in Valassis Trial; Is This All CEO Schultz's Fault?
- News America's Carlucci Admits He's a "Godfather" Fan; Denies Unannounced Price Rises
- Murdoch Quoted at Valassis Trial: "Now You Have to Really Go After Them"
- News America Exec Testifies Unilever, Conagra and Kraft Got Higher Prices for Not Taking Bundled Ad Deals
- Trial: Valassis Lost Share When It Raised Prices; Tried To Hire News America's Mixson