MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills, the package food manufacturer, increased its adspend by 19% in the last six months of 2008, and has committed to continue to a "double-digit" increase in marketing spend for the year ending in June as it seeks to take advantage of its rivals cutting expenditure.

Continuing to spend in a downturn is a strategy that has been advocated by industry commentators including Rex Briggs, who also argues that carefully targeted spending will reap the best results. 

General Mills sales increased by 11% in the second half of last year to $7.5 billion (€6.0bn; £5.3bn), and Ian Friendly, coo of its U.S. retail operations, argued digital spending was providing a better return on investment than TV.

He said: "We are seeing higher returns from digital than broadcast. It's not that our TV ads don't work, but when you're watching TV you're doing it for a different reason. When you go to a website you have a very specific purpose."

Wal-Mart, the retail giant, has also announced its global sales passed $400bn for the first time, with profits totalling $13.4bn for 2008 as a whole, and the company was responsible for around 50% of all US retail growth in 2008.

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