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The nation's true media course is in the hands of a few.

This Advertising Age Special Report demonstrates the power of the Top 100 Megabrands. The group claims 27.4% of $73.2 billion in total U.S. national media advertising in 1997. Extend that list to the Top 200, and the media mass soars to over a third of U.S. media.

These 200 megabrands -- marketing and advertising for the Top 100 are annotated in this report -- helped push up network TV spending 9.6% and spot TV, 7.9%, when all other advertisers cut network spending 5.1% and barely increase spot by 1.6%.

Within the 100, auto and retail are the driving forces, accounting for 41 of 100 spots and nearly 15% of national media.

Y&R Advertising is "lead agency" for 10 of the 100, most for any agency. But there are nine, mostly retailers, that remain in-house. That's $1.6 billion worth of potential business.

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