JOHANNESBURG: Companies including Unilever and Coca-Cola were among the biggest advertisers in South Africa in 2008 according to AIS/Nielsen, but Standard Bank estimates adspend in the country fell by 4%, or R1 billion ($110m; €82m; £74m) over the course of the year.

Based on statistics from February 2008 to January this year, AIS/Nielsen reports that total adspend through TV, radio, print, internet, outdoor and cinema in the country reached R24.5bn.

The ten biggest advertisers spent around R4bn, with Unilever topping the charts with an outlay of R645m, up 44.6% on its outlay in 2007.

Shoprite, the retail chain, was in second with an expenditure of R525m, up 18.5% year-on-year, and also spent the largest amount in the first month of this year, at R31.6m.

Coca-Cola returned to the top ten having not been part of this group since 2005, and is increasingly focusing on its international operations.

By contrast, Ford dropped by ten places in the rankings to 23rd, with a spend of R183m, while Toyota remained in 29th position and General Motors fell by four places to 30th.

Standard Bank cut its spend to R254m, and its brand marketing director, Nikki Twomey, argued that during last year South Africa saw a "complete downturn in advertising support."

Data sourced from Financial Mail; additional content by WARC staff