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Top 10 categories among 200 brands by 1993 spending (chart) Measured media spending for 1993 (chart) Top 200 mega-brands by 1993 ad spending (chart) PHONE WARS PUSH AT&T TO THE TOP

By Published on .

TV networks would do well to award gold oak-leaf clusters to telecommunications megabrands for their ad spending largess in 1993-if they had them to give away. As it was, network growth was as bare as a fig-leafed centurion.

Network spending for all brands rose a tepid $140 million during the year for a 1.3% gain to $10.9 billion, while collective network tallies for seven telephone titans alone grew a remarkable $113 million, according to Advertising Age's quarterly survey on the nation's Top 200 Brands.

The only medium to have fallen as low as network TV from year-earlier summaries was Sunday magazines, down 1.8% among all brands.

All brand media spending for 11 media assembled by Competitive Media Reporting rose 4.7% to $48.4 billion. Of that, the nation's Top 200 brands accounted for $18.7 billion, up 6.3%.

AT&T hiked its overall media expenditures 29.7% to $511.1 million to become the most advertised brand, well ahead of $484.2 million backing the Ford nameplate, the No. 2 brand. McDonald's, 1992's lead advertiser, fell to No. 4 as its media spending slipped 1%.

AT&T, fourth in 1992, packed 61% of its total expenditures into network and spot TV in a move to keep No. 18 MCI Communications and No. 28 Sprint Corp. from siphoning off more share points.

Each of the two rivals responded by spending more in network TV than they spent in all media combined in the previous year: MCI rose 57.7% to $111.4 million in network TV, and Sprint, 46.3% to $100.2 million in network.

The networks needed "Friends and Family" and "i" plans, because spending by the networks' largest ad category, automobiles, remained on idle during the year. The 30 auto megabrands in the Top 200 plied $1.5 billion of their $4.3 billion in total media package into network, although that expenditure was 0.1% below 1992.

The Top 200 are media power brokers for sure. In 1993 they accounted for 61% of all network TV spending, 39% of spot TV, 33% of consumer magazines and 23% of local newspaper advertising.

CMR's national media coverage of newspaper advertising is becoming more comprehensive. Its local newspaper ad tally of $11.8 billion compares with $20.7 billion tracked by Newspaper Association of America. The spread between the two has narrowed considerably the past two years because of CMR's rapid expansion into local newspaper markets. That expansion has brought new dollars without prior-year comparables, distorting actual growth and necessitating the estimates.

Local newspaper figures for the Top 200 as a whole and for all brands were adjusted to the 4.3% growth charted by NAA (see adjacent chart). Newspaper growth for individual brands was not changed, however.

Ad Age adjusted collective growth to 7.5% for the Top 200 and all brands in cable TV network spending to match the advance recorded by nine cable networks in CMR data for the comparable years. CMR now monitors 17 networks compared with nine at the beginning of 1992.

Even with its decline in network TV, the 200's auto category funneled 10.9% more dollars into media in 1993 than 1992. Detroit shouldered the growth. Support of U.S. car makes grew 14.8% to a collective $2.34 billion in media as backing for Asian models hit $1.51 billion, up 6.1%. European brands beefed up their spending by 12.2% to $275.4 million.

Behind the 8.8% rise in advertising among the 31 retailers-the second largest ad category by volume-was a steady 6.6% gain by the department store/mass merchandise segment-a segment that captures three-quarters of the $2.86 billion retail category in the Top 200.

Three top 10 ad categories suffered ad declines: food, beer and travel. Cereal advertising grew a meager 0.8%, setting up the food category for a decline when advertising in the coffee and soft-drinks segments plunged 15.2% and 12.4%, respectively. The cereal segment contributes more than one-third of the $2.27 billion in advertising recorded by 24 food brands in the Top 200.

All three beer megabrands, Budweiser, Miller and Coors, took ad spending hits in 1993. In the eight-brand travel category dominated by the airlines, only Continental Airlines and TWA advanced in ad spending.

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