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AD AGE DATAPLACE;TOP 200 BRANDS;HEARTY FARE: PERSONAL CARE AND FILMS PUSH BY AUTO MEGABRANDS

By Published on .

The auto industry for once didn't pull rank on Advertising Age's quarterly review of media spending for the nation's Top 200 megabrands, forfeiting that role to brands for headaches, heartburn and heartthrobs.

The report, covering first-quarter media outlays, showed total media spending rising 11.4% to $5.9 billion for the Top 200-or 40.5% of the nation's total media pie of $14.6 billion monitored by Competitive Media Reporting.

AUTOS STALL

Spending for the 30 auto brands in the 200 slipped 1.5% to $1.33 billion compared with first quarter '95; Asian badges pared collective spending 8.9%.

As a counterbalance, spending on 28 brands in personal care & drugs shot up 55.5%, and spending on 24 brands in entertainment & media, the second-largest category, rose 36.4%, according to 11-media totals from CMR.

Within personal care & drugs, Pepcid AC and Tagamet HB, neither on the market in the year-earlier period, were backed with a combined $37.9 million in first- quarter '96.

Pepcid's 10% market share at year-end rose to a segment-leading 16.9% by the end of this May, and in the same period Tagamet's share rose from a year-end 5.3% to 8.5% for fifth in the market, according to Information Resources Inc.

Pain relievers, by tradition heavily supported in winter months, cut loose with $164.1 million for six brands, up 63.6% from the prior year. The quarter included newcomers Orudis KT ($27.5 million)from American Home Products and Bayer Corp.'s Actron ($14.7 million).

DISNEY OUT FRONT

Entertainment & media, largely a measurement of the number of Hollywood releases and their hype factor, was paced by Disney movies at $83.4 million, up 10.3%-a modest uptick compared with sister studios Hollywood Pictures, up 123.6%, and Miramax, up 122.6%. News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox added $48.4 million, up 163.1%.

The swooners: Fox funneled $18.4 million alone into "Broken Arrow" with Christian Slater and Hollywood Pictures packed $12 million into Ridley Scott's "White Squall" with Jeff Bridges. Hollywood also compressed $21.1 million into the inspirational "Mr. Holland's Opus" starring Richard Dreyfus. "Broken Arrow" and "Mr. Holland" anchored a heavier than usual box-office draw in the winter months, according to Variety.

Still, autos accounted for 22.4% of total Top 200 spending, down from about a quarter of total spending at year-end. The Big 3 claimed 63% of the auto take; the Asians, 30.6%.

Cause-and-effect between auto ad volume movement and market share was tenuous. Toyota and Honda, ad power brokers among the Asians, cut media 7.4% and 1.2%, respectively, while gaining 0.3 and 0.1 share points-mostly car sales (trucks are not their forte, yet), notes Automotive News.

FORD TRIMMING BACK

Ford Motor Co. pared media outlays 9.3% on its top 200 brands. General Motor Corp. boosted media by 4.4% and Chrysler Corp. increased its ad dollars by 12.8% for a Big 3 net gain of 1.3% to $835.4 million. Local newspapers bore the brunt of auto's media "defection," dropping 50% to $58.7 million for the group as they channeled more dollars into TV. Part of the decline is a monitoring quirk: Auto ads with multiple dealer listings are now credited by CMR to dealer associations rather than the factory.

Newspapers didn't go begging for want of car ads, though. Dealers supported strong incentive packages with $456.4 million in the medium, up 9.3%.

Cable totals for all advertisers were adjusted by Ad Age to reflect same-network growth of 10.1% for 17 national cable networks. CMR has boosted cable coverage to 25 networks.

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