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Two rival megabrands-Verizon and AT&T-not only claimed over 2% of all U.S. media advertising in 2002 but became the founding members of a billion- dollar club for brands achieving that level of mega-spending.

Verizon, the nation's No. 1 megabrand of Verizon Communications at $1.02 billion in media outlays, followed by the AT&T Corp. brand at $1.01 billion, led a rally in spending by the nation's advertisers, particularly those supporting the Top 200 megabrands, that produced a 6.8% gain in media volume in 2002.

In an about-face from their 1.2% decline in media in 2001, the Top 200 Megabrands combined to spend $35.3 billion in 2002, up 11.2%. They accounted for 36.8% of the $95.9 billion in measured media by all advertisers, according to this Top 200 Megabrand report by Advertising Age.

Never in the 14 years of this annual survey has a brand topped the billion-dollar mark, much less two from the same industry. Their sustained spending (they topped the chart last year as well, although in reverse order) intensified the turf warfare for the wireless customer. Sprint, Cingular, T-Mobile, Nextel, SBC, MCI's 10-10-220 and Alltel were other megabrands that lent their voice to the category's 19.7% increase in advertising to $4.3 billion.


As potent as those telecom brands were, the auto segment still led all categories at $8.37 billion, up 10.6%, from 31 megabrands. Ford grew by more than 27% in 2002, pushing it into the No. 3 spot past General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet. The Big 3-GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler-backed their 18 megabrands on the list with $4.69 billion. Autos accounted for a third of the top 200's $4.86 billion spent on magazines and a quarter of the $22.8 billion placed in all forms of TV.

The auto ad gush led to a rebound in TV-network, spot, syndicated and cable networks-up 12.2% for the top 200 and 8% overall. TV claimed 52% of every ad dollar last year, up from 51.5%. The Top 200 brands brought greater concentration into the medium with 64.7% of their budget channeled into TV. Although the dollars were up for print, print's share of the media pie eroded slightly as dollars shifted. Print accounted for 41.9% of all advertising, down from 42.6%. Among the Top 200 brands, print captured only 31.1% in 2002.

Retailers proved the backbone for newspapers, up 9.1% among all advertisers and 10.6% for the Top 200. Retail megabrands claimed $2.2 billion in ad linage or nearly half of the total spent by all megabrands in the medium. The Top 200's telecom category claimed much of the rest, or $1.64 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR's 11-measured media, the source for this report.


The retail category was the second-largest among all advertisers at $13.5 billion, and among the Top 200 at $6.1 billion, up 9.6%-a veritable resurgence by the 31 megabrands in the segment. That Top 200 category dropped 2.6% in spending in 2001. Retailers were hardly alone in cutting ad budgets in 2001 when 111 of the Top 200 shed ad dollars versus only 51 last year.

As it shook up its marketing department and named a new CEO, McDonald's scaled back spending by 13.7% to $548.2 million. Rivals Burger King and Wendy's recorded double-digit increases. Still, spending at Top 200 restaurants grew only 6% compared to 7.7% ad growth among all restaurants.

Only the Top 200's food, beverages and confectionery category spent less in 2002. Slowed by cuts at megabrands General Mills (-9.6%), Miller (-9.9%) and Coke (-31.1%), the category declined 0.2%.

Early indications are that the recovery continues among all advertisers. Spending in 11 media through April was up 3.9%, reports TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. At that rate, 2003's media total will nudge $100 billion, bettering the top mark of $98.7 billion in 2000 and putting to rest two recessionary years.

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