Wal-Mart and Unilever Up Adspend As A-B Cuts Back

17 February 2009

BENTONVILLE, Arkansas: Wal-Mart increased its US adspend by 55%, or $300 million (€234m; £210m), last year, with Unilever also upping its outlay by over $60 million in 2008. By contrast, drinks giant Anheuser-Busch InBev is restructuring its agency compensation structure to try and cut costs.

According to figures from TNS Media Intelligence, Wal-Mart's measured media spending rose to a total of $835m during 2008, a total that does not include outdoor spending, or cable TV network expenditure for December last year.

TNS further estimates that Wal-Mart spent under 1% of its total sales revenue on advertising, compared with 2% by Target and around 4% for Sears, while its total marketing spend was below that of Macy's.

Unilever's vp of American media, Luis Di Como, also said last week that the company had upped its overall outlay in 2008, but will be "decreasing investment in the traditional 30-second" TV spot this year.

It will also, however, increase its investment in "other TV forms" as well as spending more on point-of-purchase marketing and digital coupons.

Further avenues of development will include partnerships such as a recent tie-up with CBS to promote Bertolli Oven Bake Meals and a scheme with Yahoo in support of Hellmann's mayonnaise.

By contrast, Anheuser-Busch InBev is aiming to reduce the size of its agency roster, pay agencies on a project basis rather than by the hour, and to exert tighter control on production shoots as part of its efforts to cut costs across its operations.

Keith Levy, AB's vice-president of marketing, said the company was changing its payment model to help with "redirecting budgets tied to retainers back to other parts of the business."

Johan Landmark, the company's director of commercial spend effectiveness and media, has also previously stated AB's advertising spend is now being shaped by a "Lever Allocation" model, which assesses media channels, price and distribution in order to maximise return on investment.

Data sourced from AdAge.com/MediaPost; additional content by WARC staff