Britain’s leading 100 advertisers shrugged off the flabby economy in 2002 and lifted advertising expenditure by 11.8%, even though gross UK adspend rose just 0.75%.

According to Marketing magazine’s survey of the UK’s top advertisers, compiled by Nielsen Media Research, spending by the leading century hit an all-time high of £3.27 billion ($5.17bn; €4.78bn) last year.

There was growth further down the list too, with the top 300 advertisers raising spend by 10% – a dramatic uplift on 2001’s 0.7% rise.

Procter & Gamble returned to top the pile after raising spend 32.1% to £161.8m, ousting last year’s leader COI Communications (the administrative interface between the government and its marketing agencies), which cut outlay by 15.6%.

The top ten (with spend and year-on-year percentage change in brackets) were:

1. Procter & Gamble (£161.8m, +32.1%)
2. COI Communications (£121.5m, –15.6%)
3. BT Group (£96.5m, –2%)
4. Ford Motor Company (£94.9m, +13.8%)
5. L’Oréal Golden (£70.8m, +41.2%)
6. Masterfoods (£66.9, –8.1%)
7. Renault (£66.1m, +1%)
8. Toyota (£65.5m, +77.3%)
9. Vauxhall Motors (£63.3m, +8.6%)
10. Nestlé (£63m, –17.4%)

The Nielsen data also confirm the continued tectonic shift of advertising away from commercial television network ITV, whose total ad revenues dipped 0.9% to £1.962bn.

Several top advertisers slashed their ITV spend: Ford cut its outlay on the station by 16.2%, Masterfoods by 29.4% and Nestlé by 12.4%. Although P&G raised its ITV advertising by 21.7%, it boosted spend at smaller stations Channel 4 and Five by far higher margins (70% and 176.2% respectively).

These last two stations enjoyed a much better year. The Nielsen statistics show that C4 saw overall ad income jump 6.9% to £749.8m, while Five was up 23% to £277.7m.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff