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Our subscribers last Wednesday were sent their copy of the 100 Leading National Advertisers special issue, marking our 40th annual report on the nation's biggest users of advertising. This year it carried good news indeed for the ad industry.

As the lead story from issue editor Craig Endicott pointed out, advertising expenditures for the nation's top 100 advertisers were up 11.2% for 1994, to $42.7 billion, the first double-digit increase in five years. Among the 100 Leaders, media spending was up 10.9%, to $25.4 billion; that represents 46.1% of total measured media national ad spending of $55.1 billion.

Among the newcomers to the elite list of 100, eight of them made it based upon bigger advertising budgets (as opposed to growth through merger or acquisition).

But those numbers represent what has already taken place. A good portion of the special issue provides insight into what's ahead-this year and next. There, too, the picture is positive. By midyear '95, all ad spending, as monitored by Competitive Media Reporting, was up 8.8%-this in a non-Olympics, non-election year. Among the various product/service categories that are leading the way in ad growth: Automotive ad expenditures were up 22.9%, to $5.3 billion, at midyear, and we see greater media choices and greater input at the local level from national marketers.

The amusement parks/entertainment category was up 19%, to $2.5 billion, from mid-'94 to mid-'95, and it's noted how this one area feeds so many others, such as fast-food, with movie tie-ins. Drugs & remedies were up 7.7% at the midpoint, but things are just beginning to pop in that business as new products are uncorking large budgets and existing brands gear up to defend their turf.

A look at individual media also bodes well. Magazines are up 20% at midyear '95 compared with mid-'94; network radio is up 18.5%, cable TV networks up 16.26% and outdoor up 10.8%.

As a last example from the field, the technology area (computers, telephone services, financial services) was up 5.6%-to $3 billion-at midyear but, as our reporters reveal in several industry updates, there are major goings-on sure to drive the ad activity higher. While the growth in spending on long-distance services is dramatic, the recently announced plan to split up AT&T Corp. indicates expansion into services sure to spur enormous additional growth from telecommunications marketers.

Just as the new $700 million marketing push from Microsoft asks "Where do you want to go today?" the 100 Leading National Advertisers seem to be answering clearly: "Upward."

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