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Top 10 companies by first-quarter 1994 ad spending (chart) Top 10 categories by first-quarter 1994 ad spending (chart) Total measured media spending for first-quarter 1994 (chart) Top 200 mega-brands by first-quarter 1994 ad spending (chart) REBOUNDING GM RACES PAST P&G

By Published on .

There are economic indicators, and then there's Nancy and Tonya.

Mulling over stagnant media ad growth figures for 1993-up only 4%-economists projected a modest uptick for the industry in 1994. Then the ice queens entered to stir up an Olympic pot of gold.

First-quarter ad spending triple-axeled an incredible 12.6% for all media advertising over the previous-year period, led by an upsurge in Top 200 brand spending ranging from No. 1 AT&T Corp.'s $179.9 million to Merck & Co.'s Proscar at $9.8 million.

This elite group issued a $5.1 billion spending barrage, up 24.8% from first-quarter 1993 to capture nearly 42% of all media expenditures in the period (up from 38%), according to Advertising Age's quarterly survey on the nation's Top 200 megabrands.

The big media winner, of course, was CBS-TV with an ad take of $1.25 billion, up 43%, according to Competitive Media Reporting, which provides 11-media ad totals for this report.

CBS had no trouble finding takers for the 10% Winter Olympics time availabilities not sold by the Jan. 6 attack on Ms. Kerrigan. The sellout contributed to an Olympic profit, a rarity on a network big event.

"Late Night With David Letterman" and the network's prime-time programming pulled strong ad support during and after the Games. In March's Olympic afterglow, advertising on CBS rose a Big 3-high 9.2%, totals enhanced by a holdover Olympic crowd that helped keep the network ahead in daytime as well as late night and prime time.

The $6.03 billion in advertising from network, spot and syndicated TV rose to nearly 50% of total media spending during the quarter, up from 45%.

TV advertising from the Top 200 measured in at $3.2 billion, up 33%, for just over half the TV take.

Spending euphoria spread to other media as well, pushing up all brand advertising on national spot radio by 12.4%, network radio and cable TV networks 9.4%, consumer magazines 6% and national newspapers 5.2%.

Only local newspapers and Sunday magazines showed little movement, up 1.4% and 0.9%, respectively.

Among the Top 200, the 33 auto megabrands-at $1.18 billion total spending, up 20.2%-enhanced broadcast fortunes by accounting for 15% of the dollar volume growth in network TV for all advertisers, and 25% of the dollar growth in total spot TV.

The big difference in car advertising came from a renewal in ad spending from Asian makes trying to move cars made more expensive by a declining dollar.

Advertising by Asian marques advanced 13% to $360.7 million for the quarter. The segment grew only 1% in first-quarter 1993 advertising.

This is the second consecutive quarter of double-digit Asian-vehicle ad growth (fourth-quarter 1993 was up 38.6%) and bodes well for media since historically the Japanese spend the least in the first quarter.

Not helping their surge in ad spending were two leading brands, Nissan and Toyota, with year-to-year ad growth levels of -3.3% and 0.3%. Mitsubishi's 54.1% hike in spending outpulled the rest by growth; much of it backing the Galant during Olympics coverage.

Detroit's spending levels were even stronger, up 21.2% to $690 million despite a spending decline of 2.1% by the category-leading Ford megabrand. Archrival General Motors Corp. plowed $315.7 million into media, up 27.7%, with much of that supporting mega-nameplates Saturn (up 97.7% in spending), Cadillac (up 64.4%), Chevrolet (up 27.1%) and GMC (up 59.7%).

The total GM outlay edged Procter & Gamble Co.'s $311.3 million as the leading parent among all brands.

Media-spending growth honors among Detroit's Big 3 was claimed by the Chrysler brand, up 108.3% to $82.2 million, boosted by the Olympics and TV's other big event, Super Bowl XXVIII on NBC-TV.

That extravaganza also was a major vehicle for many of the 27 food megabrands in the Top 200. Their collective ad volume of $721.3 million, up 21.9%, was second in size to the auto category.

No category among the top 10 came close to outperforming telephones, up 85% from seven brands paced by AT&T (up 85.7%), MCI (up 97.6%) and Sprint (up 69.5%).

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