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When it comes to measured ad spending, Chevrolet continues to carry the fattest wallet among individual brands. Chevy, which was the top advertiser in 1997, kept its crown last year despite a 2 percent drop in spending.

Chevy spent $645 million, compared with $620 million for the No. 2 Ford brand. Dodge held down the third spot by spending $603 million, according to figures compiled by Competitive Media Reporting. However, unlike Chevy and Dodge, Ford's numbers include some corporate spending, which means Dodge likely outspent Ford as a brand.

Chevy's spending in its biggest categories - network TV, magazines and spot TV - sagged 2.5 percent, 8 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Ford, meanwhile, opened the spigot. It spent $247 million on network TV last year - up just $2 million from 1997, but $50 million more than Chevy spent. Ford raised its magazine spending by 3 percent. Ford's spending on spot TV was $11 million less than Chevy's $115 million, but Ford's spot TV spending was up 17 percent.

Ford's spending was up or the same in every media category except Sunday magazines and cable. Its total spending last year was up 9 percent over 1997.

Dodge also boosted its ad budget 9 percent for the year. Dodge's biggest pool of money, $293 million, went into spot TV, a 27 percent increase from 1997. Dodge spent more money than both the Ford brand and Chevy in spot TV, and the $293 million it spent on spot TV represented the largest single expenditure on one medium by any of the top three spenders.

Network and spot TV and magazines still dominate when it comes to automotive brand spending. Cable continues to languish, getting only $34 million, $31

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