Unilever, P&G top global spenders

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Unilever and Procter & Gamble Co. again top the list of marketers that spend the most on advertising outside the U.S.

For the third year in a row, Unilever leads advertisers ranked by sibling magazine Ad Age Global, with non-U.S. ad spending of $2.97 billion in 2000, a slight increase over 1999. P&G and Nestle maintain their No. 2 and 3 positions, respectively, from 1999.

However, P&G's non-U.S. ad spending continued its downward turn, falling nearly 9% in part because of its new strategy to focus on key brands and sell unprofitable ones. Still, when U.S. ad spending is added in, P&G remains the world's biggest spender with 2000 global ad spending of about $4.15 billion, a decrease from global spending of $4.62 billion in 1999.

As in the last ranking, Unilever and P&G's non-U.S. spending far surpassed any other marketer in the top 25, and each nearly doubled what No. 3 Nestle spent.

The majority of marketers on the list are American and European. U.S. companies represent seven of the top 25, with French companies following at five and Japanese at four. European countries such as Switzerland, Germany and Italy also each produced a few big spenders, but there are no Latin American or Middle Eastern marketers in the top 25.

The rankings remain fairly similar to the tally for 1999, dominated by fast-moving consumer goods and automotive companies. In particular, there wasn't much movement among the U.S. advertisers.

McDonald's Corp. jumped up to No. 14 from No. 19 and Philip Morris Cos. dropped to No. 21 from No. 16. But top spenders such as Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. maintained similar positions as 1999.

Most of the U.S. marketers on the list-GM, P&G and Ford-are also the largest spenders on U.S. domestic advertising.

Some of the big movers on the list include Toyota Motor Corp., which moved up from ninth to fourth and kicked French cosmetics giant L'Oreal into the No. 12 spot. Japanese personal-care company Kao Corp. leapt from No. 28 to No. 13 with a 96.1% increase in ad spending. And telecom companies such as France Telecom, Spanish-owned Telefonica and the U.K.'s Vodafone Group, which were spending freely in 2000, also helped to bump out marketers like Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Vivendi Universal from the top 25.

What may be most striking about the list are the levels of ad spending demonstrated by these top marketers in the boom year of 2000. But this was before the bursting of the Internet bubble and the terrorist attacks on the U.S., both of which have global implications. These developments have led many marketers to pull back advertising globally and in their home markets, so it's doubtful that they'll post record numbers in 2001.

Ms. McKegney is features editor at Ad Age Global.

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