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What You Need to Know About the World's Largest Advertisers, from Adidas to Yili

Total for Ad Age's First Ranking of 100 Biggest Spenders: $241B

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If you want to follow the money in advertising, get a passport.

The United States is home to 46 of the world's top 100 advertisers, but the rest are spread across the globe from Herzogenaurach, Germany (shoemaker Adidas Group), to Hohhot, China (Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., the country's biggest dairy producer).

Ad Age's first-ever ranking of the World's Largest Advertisers shows the top 100 spent $240.5 billion on advertising in 2015, down 2.0% from 2014.

The ranking is based on Ad Age Datacenter estimates and company disclosures for total ad spending, an all-in assessment that captures everything from TV and in-store advertising to social media and mobile.

The titans of personal care—Procter & Gamble, Unilever and L'Oréal—own the top three spots. Automotive is the biggest category, with 16 advertisers in the top 100.

The group includes 47 companies based in North America (46 in the U.S., telecom firm América Móvil in Mexico); 33 in Europe; and 20 in Asia.

Japan (12 companies) ranks second, behind the U.S., for marketers in the ranking, followed by Germany (10) and France (10).

Yili Group, whose estimated spending last year surged 56% to $1.2 billion, is one of three Chinese marketers on the list, alongside internet power Tencent Holdings and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding.

World's Largest Advertisers is a reinvention and expansion of Global Marketers, a report Ad Age has published since 1987 as a tally of measured-media spending—largely traditional media—captured at rate card.

Ad Age still analyzes global measured media; this year's full online report includes the biggest measured-media advertisers by country.

World's Five Largest Advertisers
By 2015 total worldwide advertising spending.
Rank Company Headquarters 2015 total worldwide advertising spending
1 Procter & Gamble Co. U.S. $10.4 billion
2 Unilever Netherlands/U.K. $8.9 billion
3 L'Oréal France $8.2 billion
4 Volkswagen Germany $6.6 billion
5 Comcast Corp. U.S. $5.9 billion
World's Largest Advertisers: Top 5 $40.1 billion
World's Largest Advertisers: Top 100 $240.5 billion
Source: Ad Age Datacenter. Total worldwide advertising spending based on Ad Age estimates and company disclosures. Numbers rounded.
Procter & Gamble: Estimated spending on advertising plus other marketing costs for year ended June 2016.

But separate from the measured-media analysis, Ad Age calculated the new World's Largest Advertisers ranking through a deep dive into global financial filings, along with modeling for companies that don't disclose ad spending.

Ad Age Datacenter subscribers can access the full online ranking and a new global database that includes company profiles, executives and key agency relationships.

World's Largest Advertisers: By country
The U.S. is home to 46 of the world's 100 biggest advertisers. Those U.S. marketers in 2015 spent $115.2 billion on worldwide advertising and accounted for 47.9% of the top 100's worldwide ad spending.
Country Number of companies among World's Largest Advertisers 2015 total worldwide advertising spending Share of top 100's worldwide spending
U.S. 46 $115.2 billion 47.9%
Japan 12 $23.1 billion 9.6%
Germany 10 $28.9 billion 12.0%
France 10 $23.7 billion 9.9%
U.K. 6.5 $16.4 billion 6.8%
South Korea 4 $7.3 billion 3.1%
Switzerland 3 $7.5 billion 3.1%
China 3 $3.0 billion 1.2%
Netherlands 1.5 $6.7 billion 2.8%
Belgium 1 $4.8 billion 2.0%
Mexico 1 $1.6 billion 0.6%
Spain 1 $1.3 billion 0.5%
India 1 $1.0 billion 0.4%
World's Largest Advertisers: Top 100 100 $240.5 billion 100.0%
World's Largest Advertisers: By region
Asia is home to 20 of the world's 100 biggest advertisers. Those Asian marketers in 2015 spent $34.5 billion on worldwide advertising and accounted for 14.3% of the top 100's worldwide spending.
Region Number of companies among World's Largest Advertisers 2015 total worldwide advertising spending Share of top 100's worldwide spending
North America 47 $116.7 billion 48.5%
Europe 33 $89.3 billion 37.1%
Asia 20 $34.5 billion 14.3%
World's Largest Advertisers: Top 100 100 $240.5 billion 100.0%
Source: Ad Age Datacenter. Total worldwide advertising spending based on Ad Age estimates and company disclosures. Numbers rounded.
Unilever: Company has dual headquarters in Netherlands and U.K. For the by-country table, Ad Age split its spending between the two countries.

World's Largest Advertisers (AdAge.com/globalmarketers2016) complements Ad Age's longstanding Leading National Advertisers report; 78 of the 200 biggest spenders in the U.S. (and 65 of the 100 biggest spenders in the U.S.) made the ranks of the top 100 worldwide advertisers.

Thirteen of the World's Largest Advertisers had no significant U.S. measured-media spending in 2015: telecom firms Orange (France), Telefónica (Spain) and Vodafone Group (U.K.); French automakers PSA Group and Renault; retailers Aeon (Japan), Alibaba (China), Carrefour (France), Rewe Group (Germany), Schwarz Gruppe (Germany) and Tesco (U.K.); and China's Tencent and Yili.

At least one of those companies soon will be advertising stateside: Schwarz's Lidl chain, a discount supermarket, is expanding into the U.S., with its first stores expected to open by 2018.

World's Largest Advertisers: By category
Sixteen of the World's 100 Largest Advertisers are in the automotive category–15 automakers and tire maker Bridgestone–with total worldwide ad spending of $47 billion in 2015. Spending by personal care and household products marketers was close behind at $45.7 billion.
Category Number of companies 2015 total worldwide advertising spending Share of top 100's spending
Automotive 16 $47.0 billion 19.5%
Personal care and household products 12 $45.7 billion 19.0%
Entertainment and media 9 $23.3 billion 9.7%
Retail 14 $21.0 billion 8.7%
Food and beverage 9 $18.5 billion 7.7%
Telecommunications 8 $15.9 billion 6.6%
Financial services 7 $13.5 billion 5.6%
Beer, wine and liquor 5 $12.2 billion 5.1%
Apparel 4 $11.3 billion 4.7%
Technology 6 $10.9 billion 4.5%
Pharmaceuticals 6 $10.6 billion 4.4%
Restaurants 2 $5.5 billion 2.3%
Travel 2 $5.1 billion 2.1%
World's Largest Advertisers: Top 100 100 $240.5 billion 100.0%
Source: Ad Age Datacenter. Total worldwide advertising spending based on Ad Age estimates and company disclosures. Numbers rounded. Some marketers operate in multiple categories; in such cases, Ad Age assigned marketer to its most-advertised category. Ad Age combined personal care and household products categories for this chart.
Graphics by Chen Wu.
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