But they're also showing enduring faith in the American couch
potato. Those 10 advertisers spent about $6.25 billion on all kinds
of TV ads last year, up 7.3% from 2011, according to Kantar Media
Driving that increase were major product launches. The
midsize-sedan segment, the industry's largest in sales volume, saw
the redesigned Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion launch last
"If you have a big launch, you need to be in television," said
Ian Beavis, exec VP of Nielsen Co.'s global automotive group.
Honda Motor Co.
recorded the biggest increase in overall spending (29%) among
automakers last year. The Accord launch—billed as the brand's
largest ever by American Honda's marketing boss Mike Accavitti
— helped boost American Honda's TV ad spending 27% to $649.2
million in 2012. Nissan's TV budget grew 33% to $638.3 million to
support the Altima launch.
TV and outdoor advertising were the only growth areas in the top
10 auto advertisers' measured media, a category that also includes
newspapers, magazines, radio and internet display ads. Overall
spending on these formats rose just 2% to hit $8.26 billion last
year at the 10 largest automaker advertisers.
Ed Beadle, manager of media strategy for the Honda and Acura
brands, said the automaker broadened its media planning this year
with a "video-neutral" approach, meaning it would build awareness
across a variety of video-based media.
Select cable shows also draw big, committed audiences who engage
with programming online. Hyundai has had a regular
campaign aligned with AMC's "The Walking Dead," which has become a
top-rated program in the coveted 18-to-24-year-old demographic.
Overall, the automotive industry, including dealers, spent
$16.15 billion on measured-media advertising last year, up 6% from
outspent all other automakers, laying out $3.07 billion on measured
plus unmeasured spending last year, second only to Procter &
Gamble. With new agencies in place, GM is in the midst of
launching 13 new or redesigned Chevy models.
Ford, which in 2011 became the first in the industry to spend
more on unmeasured advertising than traditional ads, widened the
gap last year. Campaigns with major social-media components helped
push unmeasured spending to roughly 53% of the total.