Spending among the ten largest advertisers in the first nine months of 2011 was $11,826.3 million, a 1.4 percent decline compared to a year ago. Among the Top 100 marketers, a diversified group accounting for more than two-fifths of all measured ad expenditures, year-to-date budgets fell 0.3 percent.
Procter & Gamble maintained its top-ranked position with spending of $2,127.2 million through September, down 5.6 percent compared to last year. In the July-September quarter, when many leading package goods marketers made deep cuts to their media budgets, P&G expenditures were nearly flat versus a year ago.
AT&T was the second largest advertiser for the nine month period with expenditures of $1,527.1 million, a decline of 3.5 percent. In the months immediately following the March 2011 announcement of its agreement to purchase T-Mobile, AT&T ad spending slowed sharply. As government approval of the deal became less certain and as T-Mobile preemptively hiked its own media budgets, AT&T began restoring ad spend during the third quarter. For all of Q3, its expenditures were off just 0.7 percent from a year ago.
At Verizon Communications, year-to-date expenditures were $1,177.6 million, a decrease of 18.0 percent and the largest percentage drop among the Top Ten marketers. Having cut budgets steadily since the beginning of 2010, Verizon spending rates are now being compared against lower levels of a year ago. This largely explains why Verizon expenditures in Q3 were down just 5.4 percent year-on-year.
The largest growth rate among the Top Ten marketers was posted by Chrysler, up 41.3 percent to $867.8 million for the first nine months of the year. The increase was driven by marketing introductions for several new or redesigned models. However, the pace of spending slowed during Q3 as these launch programs wound down and July-September expenditures finished 9.2 percent ahead of last year.
Rival automaker General Motors pursued a more restrained course and reduced its outlays by 12.2 percent during the first nine months of 2011, to $1,309.9 million. Q3 media budgets fell 11.1 percent. The proportion of GM's ad budget earmarked towards passenger cars, as opposed to SUVs and pickups trucks, is pacing at its highest level in more than four years.
L'Oreal investments for the nine month period rose 22.6 percent to $948.3 million as the company expanded marketing support for the L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline and Garnier brand lines. Comcast (+18.9 percent, to $1,279.0 million) and Time Warner (+0.9 percent, to $893.1 million) also posted year-to-date spending gains, despite reducing their budgets in Q3.