Unilever leapfrogs P&G, takes ad lead outside U.S.

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Unilever bumped Procter & Gamble Co. from its lead position as the largest media ad spender outside the U.S. by amassing a $3.11 billion outlay vs. P&G's $2.99 billion in 1999, according to the 14th annual Top Global Marketers report by adageglobal.

P&G, the perennial global ad leader, already is in position to reclaim the spending lead in 2000, because Unilever will be without heavily advertised Elizabeth Arden. That division was sold in early November to FFI Fragrances, a maker of fine fragrances based in Miami Lakes, Fla., for $225 million. The deal is supposed to close by yearend. It was Unilever's acquisition this year of Bestfoods that gave it the edge over P&G.

The annual ranking, presented this week in the November issue of adageglobal, also determines the Top 100 marketers by non-U.S. media, ranging from Unilever to Sharp Corp. at $104 million. Forty-five of these marketers are based in Europe, 30 in the U.S. and 23 in Asia.

For the complete Top 100 Global Marketers ranking, see adageglobal.com.

REACHING $68.6 BILLION

Non-U.S. cumulatives for these Top 100 hit $41.2 billion, up only 1.6%. With the U.S. included, totals reached $68.6 billion, up 4.2%.

The Top 100 was collated from media spending by individual companies within 74 countries.

U.S. ad spending was not included in calculating the ranking. Many U.S. advertisers, such as department stores, are big enough to dominate the ranking even though their spending is all in the U.S.

The relatively small increase in the non-U.S. cumulative of 1.6% masks a revival in media that had to contend with exchange-rate fluctuations. During the year, the European economy remained strong and Asia/Pacific marched out of recession. Yet, in Europe, local currencies were off 2% against the dollar in each of the big ad countries of Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.

Given these currency dynamics, the Top 100 expanded media outlays only 2.6% in Europe. That compares to the group's media growth of 8.3% in the U.S.

Autos and personal care dominated category spending in this global group, with 17 auto marketers accounting for $10 billion in media, down 3%; and nine personal-care marketers marking $9.2 billion, down 1%.

Among categories attracting more than $1 billion in spending, only telecommunications and entertainment/media showed positive growth. The former hit $2.2 billion, up 59.1%, and the latter, $2.8 billion, up 11.8%.

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